CAIRO: A subsidiary of the Egyptian mining company ASCOM has discovered a consistent gold deposit in Ethiopia. The site is part of the Arab-Nubian Shield, a geological formation renowned for its richness in precious minerals, extending between Africa and the Arab Peninsula. According to unconfirmed sources, ASCOM will soon start the exploration of the area.
Originally established in 1975 as a department of ASEC Cement to offer Geology & Mining services clients, today ASCOM manages operative subsidiaries in United Arab of Emirates, Syria and Ethiopia.
ASCOM is also undertaking research for gold deposits along the Blue Nile of Sudan and in Algeria.
This timely announcement comes only few days after Egypt re-opened gold trade after a 6-week suspension due to popular unrest and to prevent illegal smuggling.
Egyptian Trade and Industry Minister Samir el-Sayyed lifted the ban on Monday after assuring that increasing stability in the stock market and in the economic and political conditions would allow gold trade to resume as normal.
But the site of ASCOM’s recent finding falls under the administration of the Benishangul State, the same region hosting the construction of the much discussed Ethiopian Millennium Dam on the river Nile.
Relations between Ethiopia and Egypt heated up in the last few weeks, as Egypt refused to undersign the Entebbe Agreement on the re-shuffling of Nile water shares, and strongly opposed the construction of the Millennium Dam.
Plans for the construction of the $5 billion Dam were inaugurated in late March. The Dam will be the world’s 10th in size, and is part of the country’s effort to reach the Millennium Development Goals.
Egyptian authority recently instructed the military to prepare for any eventuality regarding water disputes with Ethiopia following the construction of the dam.
Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs downplayed the announcement.
“It’s a psychological threat persisting from the early time of Egypt’s former President Anwar Sadat,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ spokesperson Dina Mufti told Ethiopian newspaper The Reporter.
Ethiopian authorities and public opinion accuse Egyptian government of hindering upstream countries’ efforts to develop their energetic and economic potential related to the exploitation of water resources.
In the past days, a delegation of oppositional forces led by Egyptian Wafd party member Mostafa al-Gendi visited Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, aiming to illustrate how the Egyptian people envision a fair solution of important water issues after the revolution.
“We asked the Ugandan president to intervene in favor of Egypt regarding Nile water distribution,” said el-Gendi.