CAIRO - 27 March 2023: A study by the Egyptian Center for Thought and Studies highlighted the importance of sand a commodity that is bought and sold, due to its many uses on which many strategic industries depend.
The study said that the sand is a major national wealth that has not received sufficient investment attention during the past years despite its huge investment returns.
The market value of the global sand market is estimated at more than 70 billion dollars at least, and this is constantly increasing with the progress in the industries. based on sand of different types.
Investments in obtaining silica (quartz sand), which is considered one of the most important elements that have not received due attention, even though sand is found in unprecedented abundance in Egyptian lands.
The Egyptian state is currently heading to take advantage of the smallest grain of sand on its soil, which is rich in the bounties of nature. After the opening of the first black sand complex at the end of last year, attention turned to discussing how to exploit the white sand, with the aim of maximizing the added value of its natural resources, in which it is intended to attract investments of more than about $2 billion.
White sands and their whereabouts in Egypt
The study continued that white sand is the raw material for the element silicon, which forms the backbone of global technological development, and is the main raw material in the manufacture of solar cells and electronic chips, which are the heart of the huge technological boom that moved the world to the twenty-first century.
It is a pure white sandy rock, containing a high percentage of the silica element SiO2 by more than 99% and consisting mainly of grains of quartz mineral, and the term glass sand is applied to silica or quartz sand, which has physical and chemical specifications suitable for the glass industry. For example, the size of its grains usually ranges between 100 and 500 microns, while the percentage of iron oxides (Fe2O3) is less than about 0.05%.
Therefore, we find that the Egyptian white sand has a great quality in the world because of its great purity. The concentration of silica ore in it reaches about 98.8%, and the percentage of unwanted iron oxide is less than about 0.01%, and this puts Egypt on top of the countries of the world in terms of quality (higher than Silicon Valley in the United States of America, which constitutes about 56% of terms of quality).
Huge quantities of it are available in Wadi Qena with great thickness, in addition to: the mountains of Yalq and al-Mansharh in North Sinai, the Abu Zenima area, and Hadabat al-Janna in South Sinai. Which has huge quantities of raw materials of high quality. Hence, it must be noted that the price of a ton of silica sand depends on the place of its mining and its quality, in addition to the size of the global demand for the product, and therefore we find that Egypt is responsible for about 35% of the silica sand in the world.
Egyptian efforts to preserve this enormous wealth
In spite of the great importance of this huge wealth of white sand, there was less attention to its importance before 2014, as Egypt was exporting before this date that sand in its raw form at a price of about $ 20 Only, then it is resold for about more than 150 dollars, the price of a ton reaches about 1,000 dollars, and the price of electronic chips reaches about 100,000 dollars, equivalent to more than 5,000 times the raw material that comes out of Egypt.
The most prominent problems facing this file were represented in the absence of proper planning to attract investments in this industry, in addition to the lack of energy and the necessary infrastructure, and the existence of a real problem in sand treatment due to weak research and analytical capabilities, and the absence of political will to exploit these wealth and achieve added value.
However, Egypt moved through many steps, starting with stopping the export of sand in 2016, and discussing how to exploit it as a national wealth. In addition to President El-Sisi’s launch of the “Egypt Makes Electronics” initiative the same year, as well as the opening of a solar panel production plant in the Benha Company for Electronic Industries, with a production capacity of about 50 megawatts annually (targeted to reach 100 megawatts annually), which aims to secure supplies with manufacturing components.