AFGHANISTAN'S MINERAL WEALTH WITHOUT VOICEOVER
Independent Films, Documentaries, Politics
Afghanistan may be home to massive rare earth deposits worth more then $1 trillion, recent studies suggest.
The precious mineral resources have the potential to completely transform the nation’s economy.
But security concerns and the historic heritage’s preservation pose many challenges to the Afghan Government.
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Transcripts / Production notes / Scripts
It’s believed to be the world’s second largest copper reserve and it’s in Afghanistan.
Minister of Mines Wahidullah Sharani wants money from mining here, and at other sites, to be used to rebuild the country after 30 years of war.
‘When it comes to the sustainability of our economic growth in the longer term, mining seems to be the most potential area.’
The Afghan Minister puts the nation's mineral wealth at more than three trillion dollars.
Russian geologists wanted to exploit the country’s mineral wealth back in the eighties but the primary obstacle to the extraction was a lack of security, a problem that still faces the industry today.
Now these sites are heavily guarded by Afghan security forces.
They’re attracting many foreign investors who are competing on bids for mining projects.
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‘One of the top priorities of the Afghan Government is to be sure that the revenues coming from this huge reserve will create revenues for the local communities.’
In 2007 the China Metallurgical Group Corporation won a tender to mine copper at this site in Aynak, southeast of Kabul.
‘In the future there will be more projects like this one. In each project creating the job as well as training the local labour force to ensure that most of the workers they will be from the local communities. That would be an integral part of any contract or package.”
China is not the only country investing in Afghanistan: India, Pakistan and Iran are actively seeking mining exploration deals offering enormous amounts of money that would also pay for power plants and railroads to connect Afghanistan with South and Central Asia.
At Aynak, excavations have unearthed more than minerals. Archaeologists have discovered three Buddhist monasteries dated from the 1st to the 7th centuries.
It’s been described as the most significant archaeological find in Afghanistan but a rich vein of copper runs right underneath it, so the artefacts will be relocated block by block to a purpose-built museum nearby, and in the future, they’ll be taken to the National Museum in Kabul.
‘Today we are in a critical situation. Both things are important for us: the economy as well as our history. We are trying to deliver those sculpture that are endangered by the explosions in the nearby mining area.’
In theory, the growth of the mining industry should inject millions into the crippled Afghan economy but there have been many allegations of corruption regarding the awarding of contracts.
The Minister says he’s improving transparency by closing a number of bank accounts and publishing all financial details online.
These are big challenges, but if they can be met mining will help lead Afghanistan into a far more prosperous future.
Alessandro Pavone in Aynak, Afghanistan for the NATO Channel
Year of Production: 2011
Country: United States