Egypt’s government is currently working on setting environmental standards and regulations for the industrial use of coal as an energy source, Minister of Industry and Foreign Trade Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour said Tuesday.
Importing coal will not start until regulations are ratified, Abdel Nour told Al-Borsa newspaper.
Abdel Nour said coal usage is the “fastest” solution to rescue cement factories that have closed due to a natural gas shortage. The industry’s production deficit is estimated at around 10m tons per year, according to Tamer Abu Bakr, head of the energy division at the Federation of Egyptian Industries.
The interim government approved in April using coal to address the energy shortage, pending the endorsement of the Environmental Impact Assessment, which works under the Ministry of Environmental Affairs.
After issuing the decision, the government said that it would impose a tax on coal usage and work on amending laws to tighten penalties on violating environmental standards and regulations.
A German company that specialises in clean coal technology recently met with Minister of Environment Laila Iskandar to discuss methods of reducing the harmful consequences of using coal, Abdel Nour said.
Iskandar has been vocal about her opposition to coal usage, stating that it will cause health problems for Egyptians after 30 years.
A recent research by the Egyptian Centre for Social and Economic Rights stated that health and environmental losses from using coal are “huge”, adding that coal pollution kills 29,000 Europeans each year.
To further address the natural gas shortage, Abdel Nour said the government is considering importing natural gas “mainly from Russia”.
Egypt is not discussing importing from Israel, Abdel Nour said; however, he added, “There’s no problem in importing what we exported to Israel in gas”.