Nargis Nehan, Acting Minister of Mines and Petroleum, on Wednesday said that the Afghan government is expected to announce its position on the fate of Mes Aynak Project in the near future and that government will terminate the contract if the contractor is no longer willing to move forward work on the project.
Addressing the annual government accountability program to the nation,
Nehan said illegal extraction continues in at least five provinces of the country that needs to be stopped.
“The main issue on the project is that on one hand there are historic sites located at Mes Aynak which archeologists say that there is a need for underground extraction on the site so that the historic relics are not harmed, but the contractor company says that this approach is not economically good. We are trying to convene a meeting in a month to resolve the problem. There are two options on the talks: either the company starts work or the contract will be terminated,” she said.
Nehan announced the finalization of a new mining law to improve the governance system of the extractive industries sector today in the government accountability program.
“According to the new mining law, small scale mining projects are awarding through issuing of RFA (Request for Application) and large-scale mining projects are awarding through a transparent process of bidding,” she said.
The future plans of MoMP are the completion of regulatory documents, launching the process of licensing and awarding the contract in 43 areas which include marble, travertine, cement, iron, gold, copper, talcum and precious stones, Nehan said.
Meanwhile, in this session, officials from the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Urban Development said the relevant ministry implemented at least 1,009 projects across Afghanistan which worth over $113 million last year.
Minister of Rural Rehabilitation Mujib Rahman Karimi said that the ministry has launched the construction process of over 1,500 school buildings across the country and that it plans the construction of 2,600 buildings during the current year.
“These projects will create 112 million working days and 9.4 million people will be benefited from these projects,” said Karimi.
“In 1398 (2019), the ministry of rural rehabilitation and development will implement in total 8,435 projects in areas of water supply, renewable energy, irrigation, transportation, economic development, education, public utility projects, and the projects will cost AFs18.3 billion,” he said.
Ainak mine in Logar is the biggest copper mine in Afghanistan that has attracted a lot of foreign investment.
Aynak copper deposit is considered one of the biggest economic projects of Afghanistan with an estimated resource of 14 million tons.
The Global Witness' report "Copper Bottomed? Bolstering the Aynak contract" released this week examined the economic, security, and ecological issues related to Mes Aynak and concluded the mine is not contracted at its real value.
"Our report is the first detailed analysis of Afghanistan's biggest foreign investments. We have looked at all aspects and we have identified some of the major problems with the reports as well as the good points. So one of the issues on the cost is that, for example, there is a very high royalty rate and there but also a provision which allows the rates to be reduced," said Juman Kubba, a researcher at Global Witness in 2012.
Last year The Ministry of Mines and Petroleum (MoMP) said it has wrapped up their assessment of a list of demands by a Chinese contractor for Mes Aynak Copper project.
The Afghan government was expected to gain $100 million a year from the project.