CAIRO, May 12 (Aswat Masriya) - Investments worth $30 billion in the coal industry are expected to be conducted within the next five years, Egypt's investment minister said on Tuesday.
Minister Ashraf Salman said there is "full coordination" between the ministries of environment, electricity and investment to adhere to international environmental standards when using coal, reported the state news agency MENA. The minister was speaking during a conference on the use of coal as an energy source.
Egypt's cabinet announced in late April new rules on coal use which stipulate that coal imports can only take place after approval from the ministry of environment.
The new rules are an amendment to a law on environmental affairs and allow the use of coal for cement, iron and steel, coke and aluminum production, and in power plants.
Salman made reassurances about the use of coal so long as international standards are followed, adding that the societal fear from the use of coal "stems only from our culture."
The minister said using coal as a source of energy will decrease the dependency on natural gas as a prime source of energy, reported MENA. It would also decrease the dependency on petroleum products in steel and cement production.
Egypt has been facing an energy crisis for years, with power outages surging in the summer. The peak was during last summer, when power cuts were the most frequent.
Egyptian authorities have often owed the power crisis to a larger fuel crisis and have been taking measures in recent months to diversify sources of energy.
Egypt's cabinet approved, in April 2014, the use of coal to generate energy, a move that was seen as supportive to the cement production industry which alone consumes 10 percent of all energy used in industry in Egypt.
Despite the energy crisis, the cabinet's approval caused wide controversy both from within and outside the government.