The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said Sunday that Chinese companies have been scouting ways to access Afghanistan’s lithium and copper mines.
In a series of tweets, SIGAR claimed that representatives from China industry have met with the Islamic Emirate’s officials to discuss mining rights and research access to such minerals.
According to SIGAR’s tweet, “Afghanistan’s lithium deposits could be among the largest in the world, rivaling those of Bolivia.”
At the same time, Afghan officials at the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum said no plans are on the table to extract the lithium mines, adding the plan regarding the mine is to protect it.
Officials further said that China will start extraction from the copper mine in the spring of the coming year. “In response to every country which contacted us so far, we said our policy is that we are trying to protect mines, including lithium mines for now, but regarding the copper mines, the Islamic Emirate is committed,” said Burhan Afghan, a spokesman of the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum.
“The Chinese are eager to extract Afghanistan’s mines, since it is a technical country, it needs minerals. The extraction of mines could benefit Afghanistan,” said Sakhi Ahmad Paiman, the head of the Mines and Industries Chamber.
Meanwhile, economic analysts said the interim government of Afghanistan should consider national interests while signing contracts with foreign companies.
“The Islamic Emirate must sign for the extraction of mines with China based on special conditions and the interests of the country and the conditions must be according to some principles,” said Mujtaba Paikan, economic analyst.
As with Bolivia, Afghanistan owns one of the biggest reserves of lithium in the world, which is a vital component in batteries used in cell phones and vehicles.