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Thursday, 2 June 2022

Gold tenders still on the table after EMRA awards exploration licenses

More details on the latest gold bid round: Egypt awarded eight gold and mineral exploration licenses in the Eastern Desert to four companies in its latest bid round, the Oil Ministry said in a statement yesterday. Canadian miner Lotus Gold won three blocks, the Sawiris-backed Akh Gold and Marine Logistics both got two blocks, and Ankh Resources received one block, the Egyptian Mineral Resources Authority (EMRA) said last week.

The second bid round has been “successful in attracting new investments despite rapid global challenges [triggered by] the covid-19 pandemic and the Russian-Ukrainian crisis,” according to the statement.

Gold tenders are still on the table: The dates of a new auction are set to be announced today, an unnamed EMRA official told Reuters. “Companies that did not win in the concession areas in the last auction can apply again in the new auction,” which reportedly would have dates announced today, according to the official. A report in Bloomberg Asharq claimed this week that the government was considering scrapping bid rounds in favor of direct negotiations following low turnout in the recent tender.

The turnout wasn’t actually that low: Between 13 and 15 companies submitted bids in the tender, according to officials from companies that participated.

Then why did EMRA only hand out eight licenses? The numbers are down markedly from the first bid round in 2020, when 82 gold exploration blocks were distributed among 11 companies. “It seems odd that you wouldn't take the money and run,” Mark Campbell, chairman of Akh Gold, told the newswire. “All you want is for people to come spend money and explore for minerals. You need to be exploring, exploring, exploring.”

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