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Taliban makes a grab for Afghanistan’s vast resources amid military push

Taliban makes a grab for Afghanistan's vast resources amid military push

Amid the political turmoil in Afghanistan the Taliban is making a grab for the country’s vast natural resources, worth $1000 billion.

Khaama Press is reporting that  Afghanistan is sitting on a pile of gold, silver, and plutonium besides a vast amount of uranium, tantalum, bauxite, natural gas, salt, metal stone, copper, silver, chromium, tin among others.

“Since there is a scarcity of these resources around the world, they have attracted special attention of the globe to Afghanistan,” the news organisation said, adding that the Taliban have been benefiting from the excavation of mines illegally in Badakhshan province.  The report said that the group is currently mining silver and gold in Afghanistan and have been excavating the mines illegally. Instances of extortions are also rampant.

As reported by India Narrative earlier, even prior to its latest onslaught, the Taliban was  earning $400 million a year from mining.

A report by  Da Dabaro Comisyoon revealed that the Taliban and local warlords control  around 75 per cent of total mining sites in Afghanistan. According to  the Afghanistan Ministry of Mines and Petroleum (MoMP), 748 mining areas in different parts of Afghanistan, about 283 are controlled by the Taliban, 281 by the government and the remaining by powerful warlords, Pajhwok News Agency reported.

Also read:  From gold, copper and rare earths-Taliban controls more than half of Afghanistan’s treasure trove

Over the years, the Taliban has taken control of mining sites and extorted money from ongoing legal and illegal mining operations. Lack of security and infrastructure has meant mine reserves in Afghanistan remain largely untapped, and according to a report by the United States Institute of Peace, up to 10,000 deposits are estimated to be outside government control. Much of it is in remote northern regions like Badakhshan, where Taliban revenue collectors have moved in, working with smugglers to ship stones out of Afghanistan for processing. The report says that a bulk of looted minerals is smuggled openly across the Afghan border through government checkpoints. Apart from the Taliban and "Islamic State" (IS) jihadists, the Afghan warlords also want their share in the mineral wealth. Pakistan has been a major recipient of these illicitly obtained minerals.

Maheullah Noori, a spokesman for the ministry of mines, said the government had no official estimate of the amount raised by insurgents from mining, but local MP Safiullah Muslim said the figure ran into millions of dollars a month.

“Gold, emeralds, rubies, and amethyst are all illegally mined by local militiamen and the Taliban who profit by hundreds of millions of Afghans monthly,” he told a news agency. The corruption-mired Afghan mining sector is the second-largest source of funding for the Taliban and one of the reasons behind violence in mineral-rich areas.

According to a US report of 2010, Afghanistan has a vast treasure trove worth at least $1 trillion in resources. The report said that the deposits could sustain the Afghan economy and generate thousands of jobs, reducing corruption and reliance on foreign aid. Currently, with 60 percent of the country’s budget provided by foreign donors, foreign investment is crucial. An internal Pentagon memo also claimed that Afghanistan could develop into the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” referring to the mineral that is an integral component of laptop and smartphone batteries.

Report also acknowledged the inability of the Afghan Ministry of Mines and Petroleum to handle a burgeoning resource industry.

“This is a country that has no mining culture. Unfortunately, we have failed to manage and well control our mining sector,” Mohammad Haroon Chakhansuri, Minister of Mines and Petroleum told Bloomberg News in October, “With the current fragile and messy situation, it’s really hard to say when Afghanistan should expect any profits from it.”

Sources told India Narrative that the Chinese have been especially interested in the mining sector. According to a report, the Chinese company China Metallurgical Group Corp. (MCC) controls the $3 billion mine, having obtained rights to the area in 2007 . But operations have not commenced because of security concerns and the discovery by archaeologists of ancient relics dating back to the Bronze Age.