Illegal mining blamed on insecurity of investors
21 January, 2013
KANDAHAR CITY: With insecurity scaring away investors, government efforts have failed so far to estimate mineral deposits or prevent their illegal extraction in southern Kandahar province, officials admit.
Insecurity has led to unlimited illegal mining operations in the cement and copper-rich region and the Taliban birthplace, officials at the provincial mines department say, blaming warlords for the messy situation.
Experts say Kandahar has a large untapped energy and mineral resources, which have great potential to contribute to the country's economic development and growth. In the south, and southeast and southwest, Kanhahar holds huge mines of coals, copper, precious and semiprecious stones, a geology teacher at Kandahar University's Engineering Faculty, Eng. Sher Shah Rashad, told Pajhwok Afghan News.
The teacher said Kandahar has huge deposits of marble, but a formal survey to measure the treasure was yet to be conducted by the mines ministry that he said was responsible for the administration and implementation of the Mining Law.
A new mining law was passed in 2006 and as of 2006 regulations were being developed to provide the framework for more formal exploration for and mining of minerals.
Rashad said the British in early nineteenth century had searched for minerals from Qalat, the capital of Zabul, to southern Helmand province and later the French did so in Kandahar from 1906 to 1920. "The documents of those surveys are available with the mines ministry," he said.
The expert complained the government had launched projects to develop and discover mineral resources in several provinces, but Kandahar, the second largest, had been ignored in this regard.
Local officials acknowledged the central government had been unable to stop illegal mining operations and extract properly the available resources.
The mines department director Mohammad Nabi Siddique said insecurity was to be blamed for the failure to develop the sector and conduct surveys for mines in Kandahar.
He also said there were many sites containing precious and semi-precious stones in Kandahar city, Maiwand, Maroof, Dara Noor and Shorandam districts. The director said Kandahar had a huge potential for cement which he claimed if developed could meet 80 percent demand of the country.
The official confirmed illegal digging for minerals was ongoing in the province because it involved powerful individuals. His department sent several letters to the governor's office seeking action against the illegal extractions, but to no avail.
However, Siddique said he had taken up the matter with the mines minister Wahidullah Shahrani during his last visit to the province. "The minister said the emphasise has been on extractions of coal in Kandahar," he said.
The mines director stressed the need for a favourable security environment to enable local and foreign firms for investments in Kandahar mines.
Governor Tooryali Weesa said mine extractions could help resolve many economic problems facing the dwellers and would pave the ground for an industrial revolution.