International investment in Afghan mining sector to boost economy

Afghanistan’s mining sector was declared “open for business” last month, when the Ministry of Mining and Petroleum announced 43 new tenders for natural resource projects. The Ministry invited international companies to bid for the 14 largest projects, while the other 29 will be taken on by local companies.

Nargis Nehan, the Minister of Mines and Petroleum, claimed that companies in the United States, Europe and the Gulf have already expressed interest in the projects.

Speaking at the Afghanistan Mining Investment Forum in Dubai last month, she said: “For the first time ever, Afghanistan is opening opportunities for international investors to bid on ruby, emerald and lapis lazuli projects.”

She added that the project activities would be spread across 16 of the 34 Afghan provinces. The ministry said after the tender process is complete, an initial USD 100 million is expected to be spent in the first year on initial assessments, exploration and evaluation work.

“Overall we have seen there is interest because everybody knows about the mineral resources of the country and they’re interested to invest, it’s just that since they haven’t seen any deals in the sector for four and half years,” Ms Nehan said in an interview with The National. “It will take us sometime to build trust and show them action and then we’re hoping they’ll come forward with their proposals.”

The development of the mining industry is seen as an opportunity for new businesses and employment for local Afghans, and serve domestic and international demand for the country’s gemstones and minerals. Abdul Fatah Ahmadzai, spokesperson for the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, told The Migrant Project: “This sector can boost our economy, increase our GDP and create livelihoods for Afghans by creating thousands of job opportunities.”

According to the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, Afghanistan’s mineral industry is worth around USD 3 trillion but currently contributes only seven to 10 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product. The development of this industry has been hindered in the past by insecurity, insufficient infrastructure and outdated legislation. But the ministry hopes that a new mineral law and the introduction of more transparent regulations will facilitate mineral exploration in Afghanistan.

TMP – 07/05/2019

Photo credit: Leslie Pableo/The National.

Photo caption: Nargis Nehan, Afghanistan’s Minister of Mines and Petroleum, announced new projects ranging from oil and gas to marble and gold for private sector investment. 

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