Afghanistan: Peace talks ignore dangers of minerals rush

Author: Antony Loewenstein, The Nation, Published on: 4 February 2019

"Peace in Afghanistan? Maybe—but a minerals rush is already underway", 30 January 2019

...[P]eace talks between the United States and the Taliban reached a new level of seriousness in early 2019... [However,]...one issue barely investigated is the rush to mine valuable Afghan resources...[T]he situation has never been so dire; massive contracts are being signed with little transparency or concern about the negative consequences for civilians...

The Nation has obtained a series of documents..., which...reveal the dangers of increased minerals exploitation and warn the [Afghan] president that corruption is now rampant in the industry...[The Afghan Mining Minister said] she had a seven-year plan to modernize the mining sector, which included minimizing “illegal mining activities” and improving “contract and revenue management.” She denied any wrongdoing [and] accused her critics of being “not well supported by verified information and documents,”...

...The biggest mining contracts signed by the [Afghan] Ghani government occurred recently after intense pressure from the Trump administration (and not long after troubling amendments were made to Afghanistan’s Minerals Law that included lessening anti-corruption measures and ignoring the rights of local communities)...Global Witness, Mining Watch Afghanistan, and Afghanistan’s Environmental & Natural Resources Monitoring Network released a public letter to [President] Ghani in late November [2018] that explained why he should reverse his decision [on two cooper and gold exploration contracts signed in October 2018]...

[The Monitoring Network told The Nation] that Afghanistan was in a very fragile condition and should not be pressured by Trump to further exploit its resources...Exploitation of the country’s resources seems destined to further inflame an already unstable climate...

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