Afghanistan’s Taliban government, known for its extreme religious views, human rights abuses and involvement in the opium trade, signed a series of seven mining contracts Thursday with local companies valued at approximately US$6.5 billion.
The country’s Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar Akhund announced the development via a news release and post on X (formerly Twitter) following the signing ceremony. The contracts were established between the nation’s Ministry of Mines and Petroleum and Afghan companies engaged in partnerships with private organizations in the United Kingdom, Turkey, Iran and China.
They include four sections of an iron ore mine in the nation’s Herat province — which is being divided amongst Watan Dorokhshan Company, an Afghani coal miner; Sahil Middle East Mining & Logistics Company, a domestic transportation outfit; the nation’s company Shamsh, which has two British partners; and Bakhtar Steel Company, a local entity with Iranian partners.
The country awarded a block of a zinc and lead mine in the nation’s Ghor province to the limited liability company Afghan Invest, which was established through a US$250 million investment in July. Afghanistan has also given the Takhar province’s Samti gold mining operation to a Chinese-Afghan company and provided the Logar province’s Second Mes Aynak mine to the nation’s Turia Private Company — one of the world’s largest copper deposits.
Akhund says the projects are expected to create thousands of jobs and significantly improve Afghanistan’s economy. It is one of the most significant domestic economic developments since the Taliban reassumed power in the country two years ago.
1/6: In the presence of Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar Akhund, contracts worth $6.557 billion for seven large-scale mines were signed today, Thursday, August 31, between the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum and the winning companies. pic.twitter.com/xcnKhiEfvH
— د ریاست الوزراء اقتصادي معاونیت (@FDPM_AFG) August 31, 2023
Despite the US$6.5 billion figure announced by Akhund, the Afghan mining expert Javed Noorani told media that any monetary estimates could be misleading prior to the mining operations being fully developed, which could take several years.
“The Taliban know Afghanistan has minerals and this is cash, but it’s not easy cash,” said Noorani.
“Mineral mining is an incredibly complicated operation. It requires a proper framework, strategies, institutions and infrastructure,” he added.
In April this year, Afghanistan’s Ministry of Mines and Petroleum said that China’s company Gochin had expressed an interest in investing approximately US$10 billion in the country’s lithium deposits, though nothing has been finalized yet.
The Taliban recently banned approximately 100 women in the country who had obtained scholarships in Dubai from studying abroad and announced earlier this month that women were no longer permitted to visit the nation’s Band-e Amir National Park.