At least three mining sites have been identified by the Taliban in Badghis province over the past two months, but experts and residents said there is a need for transparency in the process and the proper extraction of the mineral resources.
A fluorite mine is one of the sites identified in the past two months, according to Sayed Shamsuddin, the mines director of the Taliban in Badghis. Soon after it was identified in Ab Kamari district, the Taliban awarded a contract to a local company that will give 2 million AFN in exchange for extracting two tons of the mineral.
Last week, Taliban authorities in the mines directorate in Badghis said they have identified a natural gas site in Balamorghab district. They added that they have seen other mineral resources sites in the Mohammad Khan area in Ab Kamari district.
Badghis residents have mixed views on the new moves by the Taliban to start mining in “newly identified” sites.
“The extraction of these mines has a positive impact on the country’s economy but they should be used properly,” said Sultan Ahmad, a Badghis resident. “Mines are national assets and the money obtained from the sector should not be wasted.”
The residents emphasized the need for proper extraction of the deposits and transparency in the income from the sector.
“The Taliban is not able to properly extract these mines. These mines should not be mined in an unprofessional manner. Also, the income from the mines should be spent transparently,” said Ghulam Dastagir, another resident of Badghis.
The extraction of a fluorite mine and four gypsum mines are underway by private contractors in Badghis, according to Taliban officials.
An expert, Engineer Abdullah, said the sites about which the Taliban is speaking were identified and marked by the previous government and foreign experts previously and some of them were close to being mined.
“If mineral resources are extracted properly, it can have a great impact on the economy of the country, otherwise, in the case of unprofessional mining, it can bring a negative impact, including causing environmental pollution,” said Abdullah.
“Professional and advanced equipment and people should be used for mining. In the previous government, the biggest factor that prevented mines from being extracted was the lack of security. For this reason, the sites of mines were not accessed and they remained hidden so that they would not be smuggled,” he said.
Figures by the provincial mines directorate show that Badghis in the west of Afghanistan has at least 90 possible sites where minerals have been identified – including fluorite, lead, gypsum, coal, emerald, serpentine and others.