News - Afghanistan
Afghan Mines and Industries Minister Wahidullah Shahrani said Sunday that corruption, insecurity and the lack of qualified personnel was affecting the country's mining industry as investors avoided the sector.
Speaking before the Senate, Shahrani added that he believed foreign spy agencies were an extra hurdle because they were keen on fomenting insecurity in resource-rich areas, such as Hajigak iron ore mine, as well as helping smugglers.
He said Pakistan was making huge amounts of money from valuable stones mined in Afghanistan which were then smuggled out of the country.
"Pakistan benefits $3.5 billion from smuggling Afghanistan's high price stones. Only $10 million of the return on the mines goes to the budget of the Afghan government," Shahrani said.
Despite the corruption claims, Shahrani said he could guarantee the transparency of the Amu Darya Oil project saying that none of the government officials or their relatives have influenced the contract.
The oil in Afghanistan's Amu River zone – on the border dividing Afghanistan from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – is expected to produce more than 12 million barrels of oil by its fifth year of operation, the Afghan Ministry of Mines has said.
Shahrani's comments follow a Reuters report last week claiming that work at Afghanistan's flagship mine Aynak copper mine was suspended after many Chinese workers were sent home indefinitely or left because of instability.
The $3 billion project has stalled with only skeleton staff from the Chinese consortium backing the project present at the site to keep an eye on equipment, Reuters said.
A spokesman for the consortium China Metallurgical Group (MCC) and Jiangxi Copper told Reuters that unspecified "conditions" promised by the Afghan government in their contract had not been met.