The US Special Inspector for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) in a new report says that Afghanistan’s extractives industry never achieved its potential, despite years of US development efforts.
The report says that the US government spent nearly $1 billion to fund critical mineral surveys, mineral exploration, regulatory reforms and capacity development for the former Afghan government.
“US efforts in Afghanistan’s extractives industry presented one of the greatest opportunities for the Afghan government to generate royalty income, grow its economy, and provide meaningful employment,” the report says. “Nonetheless, multiple factors, including corruption and illegitimate and unregulated mining, hindered Afghanistan’s ability to successfully develop its extractives industry.”
The report says that Washington has dedicated funding and implemented programs to develop Afghanistan’s extractives industry since at least 2004.
“Since 2015, SIGAR has repeatedly reported on the shortcomings and challenges to US efforts in this area,” the report reads.
“These challenges include (1) Afghanistan’s inability to reform mineral policies and regulations, (2) frequent turnover of Afghan officials, (3) corruption and artisanal and small-scale mining operations, (4) Afghanistan’s suspension from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, (5) lack of infrastructure, and (6) insecurity,” SIGAR says.
Analysts said that if mineral resources are extracted through a planned process, it can boost Afghanistan’s economy.
“More than 1$ billion was invested in the mining sector but unfortunately, corruption, misuse of authority and cancelation of contracts led to failure in the investment,” said Asif Nang, an economist.
“If these mines are extracted through standard methods, and the minerals are taken out of Afghanistan, it can lead Afghanistan towards development and will improve the country’s economy,” said Naaz Kamir, an economist.
“If it is expected to improve Afghanistan’s mine sector, it is better to appoint a professional team in this regard to study Afghanistan’s mines,” said Darya Khan Baheer, an economist.
Over the past two decades, two major mines in Afghanistan were contracted with foreign investors. The contract of the Mes Aynak copper mine was signed in 2009 with the Chinese company, MCC.
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