Read the remarks by Mr. Mark Campbell CEO of Aton Resources at at PDAC 2020 "Egypt Day".
I'm not going to give a "presentation" presentation. I'm here to speak in support of the people that have already presented things and give my perspective of what I think are the opportunities that are out there in Egypt for mining today. 25 years ago, when I got involved with CENTAMIN, we were a small little exploration company about the same size as ATON is today. We had SUKARI HILL, we believed in it, but we knew that one of the problems we would face was the regulatory regime. It always a question that came out -- didn't matter about the geology. People could see the geology. We had Goldfields and other companies come to visit us -- the geology was never the issue. It was always the regulatory environment. But we believed that the geology would ultimately lead us to a profitable end.
I can remember sitting there with SAMI EL-RAGHY and he said, "Don't worry, they're gonna change, it'll come, it'll come, it'll come..." Little did we know, we'd be talking about it 25 years later. It did finally come. I don't want to dwell on the past because it is what it is, but I think these changes are important.
Egypt has the second oldest gas industry the world after the United States. It has been very well-established for so many years. Mining was at it's peak in Egypt before and after the First World War. The EL SID MINE that was talked about earlier was something in the late fifties. The oil and gas took off with some major discoveries in the late fifties through early sixties, and they never looked back. Mining was left and there wasn't anyone who picked up the mantle of mining. After generations, people in Egypt had no experience with mining. Oil and gas was the driving force. People can ask why didn't they change to mining, but they were making money out of oil and gas -- they didn't really care. When you understand something and that's what you think works, it's very difficult to get people to change their mind and do something new. Although it's easy to you know look back and pass judgement, the reality is that when TAREK EL-MOLLA and PRESIDENT SISI.
PRESIDENT SISI has a view of 2030 for the country. This view is to develop industries, not just those that are historic but those which are also the future industries like tech. Mining is very much one of those pillars. Mining is very important and the minister TAREK EL-MOLLA did something that nobody else did -- he asked the question, "Why don't we have a mining industry?" We have a long history of gold in this country, why don't we have a modern mining industry. We've got SUKARI and we've got little ATON over there with a couple other guys -- that's it. He did what nobody else had done. He said that we're oil-centric -- we come out of the oil business and we don't understand mining, so we're going to go out and hire somebody who does. They hired Wood Mackenzie, who came in and analyzed why it wasn't working, what we need to do, and what the roadmap is going to be. In two years, he was able to do what we weren't able to do in 25 or 30 years. You can't understate the importance of that change of mind.
This is a process and it's going to take time to build capacity. It's not going to happen overnight. There are going to be teething problems and all the rest. The most important thing is the fact that they have changed their way of thinking. They understand what is necessary. Changing the structure of how it operates -- looking at facilitating investment and trying to get people to come in is crucial. I think that is why there is a very bright future for mining in Egypt. If you look at that little exploration company CENTAMIN twenty five years ago -- I think we all know where they are today. Not so little anymore! That is the potential that's out there.
I just want to make a couple other points. I don't think anybody is going to deny that Egypt is massively under-explored. I think everybody knows that and that is obviously what give us everyone a real opportunity. For explorationists, it's a sort of Disney World. It's not just gold, there are all sorts of different types of minerals that potentially offer people a future. The other thing I would say is that people seem to blanche when they hear about risk factors. I've lived in Egypt now for thirty years and I will be there the rest of my life. Egypt has this geological potential, but you can overlay other things that you don't have in a lot of jurisdictions. We have world-class infrastructure. When I first visited our ABU MARAWAT concession with SAMI 25 years ago, we had to get there by a two-lane road of death. We've now got a four-lane modern highway. We've got power that runs along the edge of it. We have access to water. We've got two international airports within two hours of us. It is a place where you can operate relatively easily. We have a very good pool of skilled and semi-skilled workers in the country. I've heard this before and I just want to emphasize it again. We have Egyptian universities with Geoscience and mining engineering students just itching to get to work. I think the most important thing is Egypt is a strong and secure country. It is a country that has very deep moral values. I was saying to somebody today that living in Egypt reminds me very much of what I grew up in West Texas in the 1950s. The government is strong, it's stable environment, and it's a safe environment. My wife never worried about going out anywhere at any time of night or anywhere else. It's a cost-effective place. Our finding costs are relatively low. CENTAMIN is a fairly low-cost producer. It has the benefits of both that geological upside with all of the benefits that you would get in a more developed country. It's not Sudan where there is no infrastructure and the government doesn't have money to build the infrastructure. Not so in Egypt. When you look at the potential for discovery and the support of the infrastructure that is there, the stability, and strength of the government and the country, the ease of working in the country -- to my mind Egypt is definitely one of the most exciting destinations in the world today. I just have to say that for those of you putting your money somewhere, I don't think you have to look any further than Egypt to find a place to go with. Thank you.