In 1991 there was only one quarry in Minya Governorate,
south of Egypt, established by the local council, and the machines were imported
from Italy and lasted for 10 years.
In 2000, the number increased to 10 white limestone quarries. And with the
beginning of 2005 till 2011, there was financial liquidity in the country and therefore
the demand for limestone increased and the number of quarries reached 1800. Workers are suffering there, as they are pushing heavy machinery across a snow-white landscape, breathing in a blizzard of harmful dust, which is inhaled for 8 hours
a day, from 6 AM to 2 PM, with half an hour break. In these limestone quarries,
laborers in sandals and makeshift masks use unsheathed rotary blades to cut the
White Mountain rocks into bricks of size 30cm × 40cm.
This process requires power cords and large machines with a power of more than
400 volts. And because of the powder, the whole worksite turns into a hazy place,
and even in this view, you will find that they are working despite the lack of vision,
which is really dangerous. They earn around (7$) a day with no medical insurance. Some have lost their arms, legs, or
fingers in accidents, and there is a high risk of various respiratory, and hearing
impairments, eye infections, fever, and skin diseases.
They are carving out bricks for construction projects across the country and the
powder that is produced from limestone is used in sugar and rice whitening processes,
toothpaste manufacturing, also in pharmaceutical and ceramic companies, because
it contains calcium.
With double-digit unemployment in a nation battered by political and economic
turmoil since a 2011 uprising, the quarries attract men unable to find work
elsewhere, including farmers and university graduates.
Since 2012, a quarry law has been instituted and they have been treated like marble
quarries, and with the lack of financial liquidity, economic recession, high prices of
cement and iron, problems with the government, and the imposition of irregularities,
The number of white limestone quarries has been decreased and reached to 600
quarries, in 2018.