Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, October 20th, 2018

Mining Sector Requires Attention

Recently, it was disclosed publically that Taliban militants in Afghanistan benefit much through illegal mining. Mining sector that can be a hope for Afghanistan and its people, is turning into a funding source for the militants, which is really very much unfortunate.
Members of Badakhshan provincial council has recently disclosed that smuggling of lapis lazuli and illegal extraction of semi-precious stone in the province is the main revenue source for anti-government militants in the area.
Abdullah Naji, a member of Badakhshan provincial council said in a statement, "Afghan President issued a decree last year where he banned the illegal extraction of lapis in Badakhshan. Meanwhile, this illegal business is (also) going on in Panjsher province. This should be banned in other provinces as well. Government should pay attention to this matter."
However, the attention of the government seems to be diverted towards other concerns. And, this is not limited to the extraction of lapis lazuli; in fact, the whole mining sector seems to be suffering from the lack of attention by the government. The mining sector in Afghanistan, if boomed properly, can serve as a hope to boost Afghan economy to a large extent. Many years of instability and wars have influenced Afghan economy negatively. The involvement of international community in Afghanistan generated some hopes that Afghanistan may be able to stand on its own in the times to come. However, it would need to learn to live on its own. The complete withdrawal of international security forces from the country may raise various challenges for Afghanistan as far as the financial support and economic stability are concerned. Nonetheless, the country has to rely on its own resources and among them the mining sector can, undoubtedly, play a tremendous role.
According to certain calculations by US, Afghanistan may possess mineral deposits worth USD 1 trillion, which is really very large and includes the minerals like gold, iron ore, uranium and precious stones including emeralds. Unearthing all these mineral resources and processing them so that they are ready for use or export would definitely require large factories and a large number of human resources, which would provide the unemployed youth of the country an opportunity to avail employment.  
Country’s rich mine sector would ensure bolstering each and every sector of the country during the next 20 years but a proper administration is needed to protect the sector. It is really very imperative to understand that the large mineral reservoirs that remain untouched in our country can solve a large number of our problems but we are not able to avail such opportunity and mostly the way we administer it or plan to administer it is responsible for it.
It is really necessary that the legislative and administrative mechanisms in the country must strive to formulate and pursue the laws and policies that are for the benefits of the country and that involve the consultations and advice from the technical and professional persons.
It is an undeniable fact that the natural resources of the country have yet to be unearthed and there have not been even very basic work done in this regard. So, everything has to be started right from the very inception and that would require a lot of hard work and dedication. Hopeful expectations in this regard have to be backed properly by determined and practical measures; otherwise intention may end up in smoke.
Currently, Afghanistan has been highly dependent on international support to run its economic system. In the post withdrawal period there are possibilities that the international aid entering the country may reduce considerably. Though the international community has made promises that the support for the country may continue till 2024, the international political and economic circumstances point towards some other.
On the other hand the security situation in the country has been going through a deteriorating trend. The terrorism seems to be rising in some of the most important parts of the country and the security situation still remains a question mark. Threatened by insecurity major projects regarding the mining sector have been postponed. The ones that have been started are lagging behind their schedule. The international investors are losing their interest as they do not feel that their investment would bring fruit in such uncertain circumstances.
In such circumstances, development of a strong mining sector seems a herculean task. The mining sector is not just about digging the minerals out of the earth. It includes a complete development of an infrastructure. It involves complicated processes, machinery and latest technology.
Definitely, generations of instability have incapacitated Afghanistan to work on these resources but at the same time it would require, at least a generation if not generations of stability to bring these resources in use. It is not impossible; neither there should be pessimism in this regard. The important point is to remind the people of Afghanistan and most importantly the Afghan authorities to analyze the socio-political and politico-economic conditions rationally and try to comprehend the challenges appropriately.
After the challenges are understood appropriately, measures can be carried out to find out proper solution of the challenges. It is really encouraging that there are expectations from the mining sector, but these expectations must not be converted to fantasies rather they should be changed to realities through prudence and positive attitude.