Who benefits from key goldmine in north-eastern Afghanistan?

Raghistan goldmine, a key mining site in Badakhshan province in north-eastern Afghanistan, is controlled by the Taliban for the past 12 years, as a luxurious income source for one of its commanders in the area, sources, including residents, former officials and MPs from the province, said.

The sources said that a Taliban commander, Mawlawi Najibullah Raghi, who has controlled the goldmine since 2011, earns 17 kilograms of gold every week from the mining site. That comes from his share in the gold which is extracted by locals in the area, sources said.

The mining site is located in the Wekadir area in the Raghistan district.

Amanullah Paiman, a former MP from Badakhshan, said that during 2010 and 2011, they repeatedly pressured the local government to prevent illegal mining in Raghistan district but the previous government could not retake control of the mining field.

He said that local residents extract the gold every day and give one shekel of gold to commander Raghi in exchange for five shekels they extract daily.

Ex-MP Paiman said the share that the residents give to Raghi totals at least 17.5 kilograms of gold a week.

One gold seller in Faizabad city, the center of Badakhshan, said that one shekel of Badakhshan’s gold is sold for 18,000 to 23,000 Afs ($211 to $270).

A tribal elder from Badakhshan who wished not to be named in this report confirmed that Raghi has been benefiting from the extracted gold in Raghistan for the past 12 years.

He said Raghi had links with al Qaeda, Ansarullah of Tajikistan, Uyghurs of China and Daesh during the previous government and used to share the income with them.

Based on figures obtained during the previous government, Raghi used to collect 2.5 kilograms to 3 kilograms of gold a day from locals, the tribal elder said.

He added that after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and full control of Raghi over the goldmine, 400 excavators, 800 trucks, 800 pumps and 12,000 workers were put to use for mining in the site.

According to him, six months ago, the nephew of the Taliban’s deputy prime minister Abdul Ghani Baradar had a secret visit to the mining site.

Following his visit, the tribal elder said, Raghi was summoned to Kabul where he was in home custody for a while.

Moreover, following the same trip, Raghi was appointed as the police chief of Laghman in eastern Afghanistan.

A local official from the previous government in Badakhshan said that despite being in Laghman and away from Badakhshan, Raghi’s supporters still have the goldmine under their control.

The official said that Raghi has built a religious school in the Atar area in Raghistan district worth 12 million Afs from the income he gets from the goldmine where at least 300 students are enrolled.

The official added that all expenses of the madrassa are provided from the income of the goldmine.

Gen. Sakhi Ghafoori, former police chief of Badakhshan, told Amu that Raghi was one of the most violent figures of the Taliban in Badakhshan but after getting the goldmine under his control, he changed into an influential figure in the area.

Ghafoori said that Raghi has close ties with al Qaeda, Tajikistan’s Ansarullah and Uyghurs of China.

Taliban authorities in Badakhshan did not respond to remarks about gold mining in Raghistan district.


Badakhshan’s Raghistan district has 133 villages and shares borders with Kohistan, Yawan, Shughnan and Darwaz-e-Bala districts of Badakhshan as well as with Tajikistan.

The district is 112 kilometers away from Faizabad city, Badakhshan’s center, and has an estimated population of 45,000.

The mission to retake control of the mining site from the Taliban was one of the biggest promises made by former president Ashraf Ghani that was never fulfilled.

In November 2019, Ashraf Ghani in a speech in the province told elders, MPs and local officials that “we will take the goldmine from the Taliban.” Ghani directed local officials to retake the goldmine in Raghistan from the Taliban.

After Ghani’s trip, Akhtar Mohammad Khairzada, former Badakhshan governor, told reporters that the Taliban had full control over the Raghistan goldmine.

Badakhshan lawmakers at the time reported that the Taliban’s daily income from the goldmine increased to $60,000 from $20,000 after Ghani visited the province and emphasized retaking control of the mining site.