Afghanistan: illegal mining fuels war

The Academy of Sciences of Afghanistan on Aug. 21 warned that continued illegal extraction of the country's mineral wealth is leading to problematic security and political consequences. Acting ASA director Suraya Popal stated: "Terrorists and strongmen with illegal extractions and revenues from mines weaken the rule of law and fund the insurgency. Thus, extraction of the country's minerals should be done in line with the law and international standards before it's too late." She called on the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum (MoMP) to bring the mineral indsutry under "strong management," with the aid of the international community.

MoMP deputy minister Nargis Nehan, also speaking at the Kabul seminar, admitted that in areas under Taliban control minerals are looted by insurgents in league with international smugglers, while even in government-controlled areas mines are being operated illegally by military commanders and local warlords.

The US Defense Department and Afghanistan Geological Survey have estimated the total value of Afghanistan's minerals at $3,000 billion; however, many beliebe this estimation is incomplete and the actual amount could be much higher. (Pajhwok Afghan News, Aug. 21)