Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, April 22nd, 2018

Efforts to Boost Mining Sector

As the concerns regarding Afghanistan’s mining sector seem to be escalating, Afghan government has taken some initiative to deal with the problems. It has signed over 80 mining contracts with the private sector in a bid to boost the extraction of mines and prevent illegal extraction of the mining.
Officials in the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum told reporters in Kabul on Tuesday that the government is more focused on transparency when the contracts were signed. Mohiuddin Noori, a spokesman for the Ministry of Mines and Petoleum, said the government has concluded 84 agreements since the beginning of the new solar year. He said the contracts have been signed on key conditions to include transparency as per the new terms and conditions, control and supervision of the contracts, generation of revenue by the contracts for the private sector and the government, and the feasibility to implement the contracts in the region.
It is really important that this initiative is pursued with honest commitment as there are really serious issues within Afghanistan mining sector. 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 disastrous.Members of Badakhshan provincial council recently unveiled that smuggling of lapis lazuli and illegal extraction of semi-precious stone in the province was the main source of income for anti-government militants in the area.
The fact is that the mining sector in Afghanistan has always suffered from lack of attention by the government authorities. This sector, if nourished appropriately, can build an optimism to uplift Afghan economy to a huge extent. Many years of uncertainty and warfare have influenced Afghan economy damagingly. The involvement of international community in Afghanistan spawned some hopes that Afghanistan would stand on its own in near future. Nevertheless, it still needs to learn to live on its own. The only way it can do this is to rely on its own resources and among them the mining sector can, without a tinge of doubt, play an incredible role.
As per the statistical data by United States, Afghanistan may possess mineral deposits worthy of $ 1 trillion, which is huge and comprises of important minerals like gold, iron ore, uranium and precious stones including lapis lazuli and emeralds. Excavating all these mineral resources and processing them so that they are ready for use or export would certainly entail the need of large factories and a large number of skilled human resource.  
There is no doubt in the fact that country’s rich mining sector could guarantee supporting each and every sector of the country during the next 20 years but a capable and honest administration is needed to guard the sector. It is absolutely essential that the legislative and administrative mechanisms in the country must endeavor to frame and follow the laws and policies that are for the welfare of the country and that encompass the consultations and instruction from the technical and professional individuals and groups.
The fact remains that the natural resources of the country have yet to be excavated and there have not been even rudimentary work done in this connection. So, everything has to be initiated right from the beginning and that would involve a lot of hard work and devotion. Optimistic 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 difficult 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.