Egypt’s army closes 800 marble quarries and raises licensing fee by 400%

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The Egyptian authorities have closed 800 granite and marble quarries, as of October 1, according to a decision by the Egyptian Company for Mining, Management, and Exploitation of Quarries and Salt Mines, owned by the National Service Projects Agency of the Egyptian Ministry of Defence.

The closure decision to rearrange the conditions in the quarries, after transferring them to the army from the localities, comes as the annual licencing fee was raised from EGP 120,000 ($7,640) to EGP 480,000 ($30,000), at a rate of 400 per cent, in addition to collecting EGP 15 (less than $1) for every tonne of marble, and EGP 34 ($2) for every tonne of granite.

According to observers, 70 per cent of quarry beneficiaries will not renew their licences and will import, especially from Turkey, as the price of the Turkish product after the new conditions will become cheaper than the Egyptian product, even after paying five per cent import fees. Observers expect that the number of quarries in Egypt will decrease after the army took control of between 200 and 800 of them, which fed 2,500 marble factories nationwide. The number of workers is roughly 150,000.

Experts believe that after the increase in production costs, including fees (400 per cent), prices will rise by about 50 per cent in the coming period. The high cost of the Egyptian product will lead to its exit from global competition. Marble and granite exports declined in the first half of this year by 20 per cent, recording $87 million, compared to $110 million in 2019. At the end of 2019, it reached about $229 million, compared to $228 million in 2018, an increase of 0.42 per cent, according to data from the Egyptian Council for the Export of Building Materials.

Egyptian General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued a law authorising the ministers of petroleum and mineral wealth, local development, housing, and utilities, to contract with the Egyptian Company for Mining, Management, and Exploitation of Quarries and Saltpans, owned by the National Service Projects Agency, which in turn is affiliated with the Ministry of Defence. The law granted the army company the right to exploit quarries and salt mines in the lands that fall under the jurisdiction of all governorates to work on the implementation of manufacturing activities in its various stages for mining materials.

The decision came under the pretext of meeting the market’s needs internally and externally in support of the national economy, creating job opportunities for current and future generations, and preserving mineral wealth throughout the republic. The law also grants the army the right to work on manufacturing and exporting to global markets and tighten control over the quarrying and marine facilities in Egypt, eliminating random exploration and extraction of minerals.