Afghanistan is believed to have the world’s second largest reserves of copper. It is believed by many that mining can help exploit the enormous mineral wealth of Afghanistan. In turn, it can help generate the much needed resources that the country requires for economic growth. Afghanistan has seen three decades of war and destruction. Rebuilding is a time consuming and costly affair. Aid is never enough, and the country is impoverished. Mining seems to be a silver lining.
Afghanistan's Minister of Mining believes that the mineral wealth of the country is worth a whopping $3 trillion. The biggest hurdle to mining has always been security issues. These days these mining sites are heavily guarded by Afghan National Forces, but the threat of Taliban is always hovering in the background. It is also important that a transparent process be put in place while inviting foreign investors. It must be ensured that the money must not be pocketed by a few as corruption is rampant in Afghanistan. It is very important that the money is utilized for the betterment of the local population.
The Chinese won a tender in 2007 for mining copper. Active interest is also being shown by India, Pakistan and Iran for mining projects. Large amount of money that flows in will help develop infrastructure like roads and power plants in these areas. Efforts are also made to train the local population so that jobs are generated for locals to be a part of this booming mining activity.
While excavating for mining, ruins of 3 ancient Buddhist monasteries have been found by the archaeologists. Since copper mining trail runs right under these, efforts are on to safely relocate these to a nearby area from where they will be shifted to a museum in Kabul. But this is a slow process. There is a fine balance that has to be achieved of preserving the culture and history of Afghanistan as well as going ahead with economic activiity of mining. Explosions related to mining activity have the potential of damaging these ancient sculptures and that must be safeguarded against.
There are widespread allegations of corruption in the tendering process. Afghani minsters have to watch out for these and put in place measures to check these. Some of these like rechecking of bank accounts, freezing of suspect bank accounts, and making financial details available online are steps forward in this direction. But only time will tell how efficiently this mining wealth will be utilized for the betterment and economic progress of Afghanistan.
Watch the video above for more information about this.
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