THE ASSOCIATED PRESS – EASTERN DESERT, Egypt — Off the off-road tracks deep in Egypt’s eastern desert, prospectors are ramping up the hunt for the treasure once revered by the Pharaohs as the “skin of the gods” — gold.
Essential for ancient artifacts like the famed burial mask of Tutankhamun and still highly desired in Middle Eastern culture today, gold has been mined in Egypt for millennia. But experts say the country is heavily underexplored and that modern technology now allows much deeper excavation of the ancient sites shown on Pharaonic treasure maps.
If developed, gold and mineral mining could prove a boon to the country at a time it is desperate for foreign currency, and provide jobs for its burgeoning population of 90 million. But miners and experts say current legislation is out of step with global practices and doesn’t give enough incentives to bring in foreign investment.
“Mining has been going on here for over 5,000 years, but in the 21st century it’s essentially virgin ground,” said Mark Campbell, president of the Canadian exploration company Alexander Nubia, which is increasing its drilling this year in a 1,070-square mile area in the desert. “Exploring for gold and minerals in Egypt today with modern technology is like having a map where X marks the spot.”
The group has identified six potential mines in the area, filled with barren valleys and pink rock outcroppings known as the Arabian-Nubian Shield, which stretches south to Eritrea and east to Saudi Arabia.
While veins close to the surface have been largely excavated by successive Pharaonic, Roman and even British colonial operations, the sites still hold gold concentrations deeper down that nowadays can be extracted with heavy machinery.
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