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Afghanistan: Integrity Watch says new mining contracts may violate minerals law

Afghanistan signs major mining deals despite legal concerns, 6 October 2018

The Afghan government on Friday [5 October] signed two contracts for the exploration of copper and gold deposits in the north…But watchdog groups say aspects of the contracts may violate the law and aggravate questionable practices that have marred the mining sector for years…

The contracts…were signed…between the Afghan ministers of finance and mining, and executives from Centar Ltd….Centar’s local partner is Sadat Naderi, who until June was Afghanistan’s minister of urban development. The Afghan minerals law prohibits senior officials from bidding on mining contracts for five years after they leave government.

 …[T]he chief executive of Centar, said in a statement that the company had negotiated the deal “in strict adherence to Afghan law and international standards” and that the bidding process had been transparent.…Because the two contracts had been completed by the previous government…officials say the contracts do not violate the law…

Integrity Watch [says] the contract that was agreed upon by the previous government has been considerably revised since that time. “During the renegotiation of the contract, Mr. Naderi was still a cabinet minister,” [Integrity Watch] said. The Afghan government provided contradictory information on when the renegotiation happened…