Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, October 18th, 2018

Afghanistan’s Mining Sector: Fantasy and Reality

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, except for the last some years. The involvement of international community in Afghanistan has generated some hopes that Afghanistan may be able to stand on its own in the times to come. However, it would need to learn to live on its own. The complete withdrawal of international security forces from the country may raise various challenges for Afghanistan as far as the financial support and economic stability are concerned. Nonetheless, the country has to rely on its own resources and among them the mining sector can, undoubtedly, play a tremendous role.
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 admainistrative 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 facts – they clearly depict that there will be a considerable decline in financial support to Afghanistan, if not complete negligence.
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. Moreover, the regional ties regarding peace and security seem to be weakening and the reconciliation process seems out of shape. In fact reliable security still remains dubious.
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. Most importantly, it requires a reliable and working transportation system that must be free of risk and must prove helpful in transporting heavy equipments and human resource to the mountainous areas where minerals are located. In addition, the same transportation system must transfer the minerals that are dug out to different plants for being refined and changed to usable conditions.
The mining sector also requires strong, cheap and reliable communication system that must remain undisturbed by the culprits. As a matter of fact, for the whole process, in order to reach to its final phase, a lot of investment and a decade or more of peaceful socio-political circumstances are required. While forming expectations about mining sector, it is necessary for the government officials to keep in considerations all these facts.
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 the purpose of this article has been to promulgate pessimism about the circumstances. Its main objective has been 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.