KABUL (Pajhwok): A table of the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum (MoMP) shows that of 748 mining areas in different parts of Afghanistan, about 283 are controlled by the Taliban, 281 by government and the remaining by power full individuals.
The ministry collected information on nationwide mining sites. A source in MoMP provided Pajhwok Afghan News the table based on that information. He said this information was collected between 2018 and 2020.
The information contains the number of mineral areas, locations of mines, who control them and types of minerals. The table also identities the miners, but Pajhwok does not mention them for lack of clarity.
Mining areas under government control are 139 in Kabul, 37 in Badakhshan, 24 in Farah, 19 in Logar, 13 in Khost, and 49 in 11 other provinces.
Mining sites under Taliban control: 165 in Badakhshan, 16 in Helmand, 11 in Nuristan, as many in Kunduz, eight in Uruzgan and 72 in 21other provinces.
Similarly, the mining sites under the control of strongmen include 127 in Kunar, 10 in Samangan, 10 in Baghlan, nine in Maidan Wardak, six in Kunduz and 27 in seven other provinces.
Mining areas in districts & provinces:
The mining sites are located in the following districts and provincial centers:
In Kamdesh, Duab, Barg-i-Mtal and Waigal districts of Nuristan.
In Khakrez, Arghistan, Shah Walikot, Takhta Pul, Zherai, Dand and Daman districts of Kandahar province.
In Shiberghan, Khwaja Dokoh, Khumab, Qarqeen and Qush Tepa districts of Jawzjan province.
In Hesa-i-Awal district of Panjsher; Koh-i-Safi district of Parwan; in Arghistan, Kohistan, Yawan and Khash districts of Badakhshan; Sayyad, Kohistanat and Balkhab of Sar-i-Pul; in Sangtakht and Bandar and the capital of Daikundi.
In Sharan and Sra Roza, Naka, Warmami, Barma, Orgun and Zarghon Shahr districts of Paktika province; in Sherin Tagab and Almar of districts of Faryab; in Sherzad, Khogyani, Surkh Rod, Kama, Batikot, Behsud and Khewa districts of Nangahar.
In Ghorian and Pusht Koh districts of Herat; and in Maqur district of Badghis; in Tagab district of Kapisa; in Dehdadi, Chamtal and Nahr Shahi districts of Balkh; in the Kahmard district of Bamyan; in Azra, Mohammad Agha and Baraki Barak district and Pul-i-Alam, the capital of Logar; in Tani, Domanda and Gurbaz districts and the capital of Khost province.
Other mines are located in Nahrain, Deh Sala, Doshi, Khost, Baghlan-i-Markazi and the capital of Baghlan province, Hazrat Sultan, Royee Doab and Dara-i-Sauf Bala districts of Samangan and Paghman, Deh Sabz, Baghrami, Qarabagh, Sarobi, Chahar Asiab and Shakar Dara districts of Kabul.
Desho and Khanshin districts of Helmand, Khas Kunar, Dara Pech and Chapa Dara districts of Kunar, Syedabad, Nirkh, Behsud-1 districts of Maidan Wardak, Khas Uruzgan, Gizab, Chora districts and Tirinkot, the capital of Uruzgan, Namak-i-Ab, Chal, Khwaja Ghar, Gulfgan, Farkhar, Chah Ab, Dasht-i-Qala and Rustaq districts of Takhar, Jeoon and Khak Safid districts of Farah also have such sites.
Similarly, some mining areas are located in Maqor, Deh Yak and Zankhan districts of Ghazni, the capital and Qarghayo district of Laghman.
Period of activity at mining sites –1-40 years:
In accordance with the table provided by the ministry, there has been no mining activity in 14 areas. However, mining has been ongoing at one site for 40 years, at three sites for 30 years, at six sites for 20 years, at two sites for 18 years and at three other sites for 15 years.
The mining work has been ongoing for 10 years in 17 areas, for nine years in six areas, for seven years at one site, for six years at three sites, for five years in 77 areas, for four years in 151 areas, for three years in 21 areas, for two years in 10 areas, for two years in 119 areas and for one year in 12 areas.
However, no mining work has been done in 14 areas, with extraction suspended at one and stopped at another.
But, a source, who declined to be named, claimed extraction was happening in the 14 areas.
About activity in 112 areas, no information has been provided in the table. Extraction continued in 13 areas in “past years”, in 127 areas “for many years and in four areas “intermittently”.
A contract for the coal mine in the Nahrain district of Baghlan province was awarded to the Hashimi Group of Companies. But activity at the site is currently suspended.
The suspension is linked to non-payment of dues to the contractor and non-implementation of the company’s work plan by the ministry. Nonetheless, powerful individuals continue to dig up the site illegally.
The government has no control on construction material (mines and gypsum), coal, chromite, gold, fluorite, salt, talc, nephrite, ruby, biruj, ruby, emerald and other precious stone mines. These sites are illegally dug up by local strongmen and militants.
The source alleged some government officials and members of parliament were involved in the unlawful extraction of coal, chromite, nephrite and construction stones.
Lack of attention from the government to the security of mines, little support for activities of the private sector, lengthy contract procedures, legal problems and lack of transparency in contract award are principal reasons for illegal mining.
The source explained although dozens of local mines apply to the ministry daily for licenses, the relevant authorities either refused to respond or said they should wait for the announcement by the ministry.
There are also a number of mining companies whose contracts have expired. Although such firms have made legal request for contract extensions several years ago, the ministry has not been able so far address the issue.
Under Article 75 of the Mining Law, a person who is engaged in mining activities in an area without a licence before entry reserves the right of precedence to obtain a small-scale mining permit.
But a well-placed source revealed the ministry had so far been unable to issue mining licences to those involved in mining for years.
Aziz Gharwal, spokesman for the MoMP, said: “We cannot give anyone who wants a mine, the mining site is checked, the volume of deposits is determined and the area put in auction after the completion of the legal process. Whoever wins is awarded a contract.”
Market for extracted minerals:
Based on the information presented in the table, minerals of 28 percent of the mining areas are sold abroad. They are mainly transported to neighbouring Pakistan.
The table shows the minerals were transported through Chitral and Bumrit districts of Nuristan, Dand, Maiwand, Maroof and Spin Boldak districts of Kandahar, Helmand and Nimroz provinces; Azra district of Logar, Shahr-i-Safa districts of Zabul; Kabul-Kandahar highway; the Sarobi-Kabul road; Torkham district of Nangarhar; Tagab district of Kapisa, Bahramcha district of Helmand; Ghazni and Qalat.
Gharwal confirmed that the statistics, including the table, had been collected by the ministry. But 31 areas outside government control at the time of the information collection were not controlled by government.
He added the issue of retaking control of the areas had been shared with security agencies in order to recapture these areas.
According to Gharwal, when a mining contract is concluded with a company, the public protection unit also assigns security personnel to protect the area; otherwise, the local administration is responsible for guarding mining sites.
Pajhwok shared the information about the country’s mines with Ministry of Interior spokesman Tariq Arian, and asked him what steps were being taken to recapture mines in areas that were not under government control, Arian quipped: “We are at war”.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said: “We are not involved in extraction of mines anywhere. However, we have tried to prevent mining in some areas. We will prevent illegal mining and trafficking that harms the national interest.”
A survey by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimates the value of Afghanistan natural resources at $1 trillion.
But reports say the value of only 30 percent of the country’s natural resources is about $1 trillion. This estimate is based on a joint survey by Sweden, Britain and the former Soviet Union, and a recent study conducted by USGS
These natural resources include iron and non-ferrous minerals, such as the strategic minerals lithium, uranium and cambium.
This includes only 30 percent of Afghanistan’s natural resources, based on a joint survey by Sweden, the United Kingdom, the former Soviet Union, the recent survey conducted by the USGS.
The natural wealth also includes iron and non-iron deposits and strategic minerals such as lithium, uranium and cambium.