Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, October 21st, 2018

Mining Sector Faces Major Challenges

Though a ray of hope for economic stability in Afghanistan, mining sector faces major challenges and issues. These issues, if remain unsolved, can threaten the viability of the whole sector and ultimately result in its failure. Therefore, it is important that these issues should be solved as they arise so that the sector is able to flourish. However, doing so requires bold and confident steps towards betterment.
Finance Minister Eklil Hakimi, recently, expressed his concerns over descending incomes from the mining industry. He said in a statement, “Our mines are faced with many problems… Mining industry’s incomes are being embezzled by powerful individuals. These incomes are national incomes and must be saved from embezzlement.” This is really tragic as the sector is already facing issues regarding infrastructure and human resource development. Corruption in the sector will only invigorate the troubles. Meanwhile, it was also disclosed recently 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.
However, the attention of the government seems to be diverted towards other concerns. 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.
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.