Afghanistan has a massivedeposit of copper. If this natural resource is properly utilised the country could become a major hub of copper export in the world.
The Ministry of Mines and Department of Geological survey say as many as 242 sites of copper mines have been identified in Afghanistan out of which the Aynak, Balkhab, Shaida and Zarkashan are the bigger ones.
A team of the United States Geological Survey revealed Afghanistan could become a leading copper producing country if its copper reserves were properly exploited. Chile is currently the largest copper exporting country in the world. An estimate shows Afghanistan has 68,500 million tonnes of copper reserves worth around $3 billion.
The Aynak copper deposit, known as MesAynak is the largest copper reserve in the country. The exploration of Aynak copper is underway where Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC) is all set to invest $8.2 billion.
MesAynak is located 40 kilometres to the southwest of Kabul in Mohammad Agha district of central Logar province.According to initial surveys, MesAynak has between 11.3 and 17 million metric tonnes of copper, 7,700 metric tonnes of silver, 600,000 metric tonnes of cobalt and an unidentified amount of gold.11.3 million tonnes of pure copper needs to be separated from three billion tonnes of copper ore. The Aynak mineral deposits were discovered in 1973 and proper efforts of its exploration begun in 1974.
In addition, there are three other mines in Logar province, which need to be explored further in the larger interests of the country.
Central Aynak: A field survey of central Aynak Mine in 1995 proved the existence of 140 million tonnes of copper ore, which contained 2.5 percentof copper.
Southern Aynak: Another field survey of southern Aynak Mine in 1995 estimated the existence of 50 million tonnes of copper ore with0.9 to 1.6 percent of copper.
Western Aynak: The western Aynak mine has around 50 million tonnes of copper ore containing 0.62 and 2.05 percent of copper.
In addition, several others large and small reserves exist on the outskirts of central MesAynak. There is a seven kilometre long range of copper reservein Darband area of Khaki Jabbar district in Kabul province and the Jawhar copper mine to the south of MesAynak.According to the information of Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, the Aynak copper reserve is spread across an area of 800 square kilometres.If exploited properly, the Aynak copper mines would have positive impact on the economyof the country, the ministry claims.
The Aynak area is known for its historical remnant assets too.A team of Afghan and French historians discovered around 30 ancient statues including a five metre long Buddha statue. The team is in the area to excavate the historical artefactsfor safekeeping.
The Balkhabcopper mine is located in Payi Meer Sayed Murad area of Balkhab district of central Sar-i-Pul province.Situated in a mountainous area, the locals have been excavating the resources for thousands of years. The 5,000 metres long Balkhab Copper Mine was discovered in 1972 andsaid to have 1.6 per cent pure copper.
The Shaida Copper Mine has 1.1 per cent pure copper and stretches over a 2,400 square metres area. It is situated away from Herat city in a territory between PushtonZarghon and Adraskan districts. It was discovered in 1973 by Soviet and Afghanteams with an estimated copper deposit of five million tonnes.
Officials of Ministry of Mines and Petroleum say copper mines, in the Zarakashan area of Qarabagh district in central Ghazni province, were discovered by local and foreign geologists.WaheedullahShahrani, former Minister of Mines and Petroleum says, the Zarakahshan mine has more than more $30 billion worth of copper and gold reserves.The gold and copper mines in Zarakahshan are situated 225 kilometres to the south of Kabul.
Sites in Herat
• Nayak: Exact information about its discovery or depositsare not available.
• Du-brother:The Du-brother copper mine was discovered in 1972 jointly by Afghan and Soviet geologists.
• SimKoh: The SimKoh Copper Mine was discovered by Soviet and Afghan geologists in 1973; however, details are yet to be established about the volume of deposit.
• Mir Ali: The Mir Ali copper mine, situated in Heart, was discovered in 1970. However, further details about the volume of copper is not available.
• Dahana: The Dahana Copper Mine was discovered in 1971 by Afghan and Sovietgeologists. The mine is 200 metres wide and 1200 metres long.
• The TagabSoni Copper Mine: It is divided into two parts--- the TagabSoni copper mine was discovered in 1972 by Afghan and Sovietgeologists.This mine is 900 metres wide and 3,000 metres long.
• The Dosar Copper Mine: Discovered in 1973 the mine is 150 metres wide and 2,200 metres long.
Afghanistan has scores of othersmaller sites rich in copper. However, concrete information about its volume and exploitationare yet to be established.
• BaioQurah: The BaioQurah copper mine was discovered in 1973 by Afghan and Sovietgeologists and located in the northeasternprovince of Badakhshan.
• Furmorah: It is also situated in Badakhshan province. However, further details about the mine are not available so far.
• SeaKoh: In a joint effort by the Afghan and Sovietgeologists, the Sea Koh copper mine was discovered in 1972 in Farah province. The mine stretches on a 1.7 square kilometres area.
• Ahankashan: It is situated in northwesternBadghis province. The Ahankashan copper mine was discovered in 1974. Besides copper, gold, lead, other metals are also said to be presentin the area.
• Kushkak: Located in central Ghor province,the Kushkak copper mine was discovered in 1972 jointly by Afghan and Sovietgeologists.
• Kabarghi: It was discovered in 1971. The Kabarghi copper mine is located in southern province of Kandahar, which has 10,000 to 12,000 tonnes of copper. Other metals are also found in the site.
• Kandalan: It comprises of three parts,Kandalan, SurkhShila and KaptarGhar. The Kandalan mine has 13,600 tonnes of copperand is 400 metres wide and 1,500 metres long.
• SurkhShila: Besides copper, the SurkShila mine has gold reserves as well. This mine, which is 120 metres wide and 1,000 metres long, has 4,100 tonnes of copper.
• KaptarGhar: It was discovered in 1971. The KaptarGhar copper mines have 21,400 tonnes of copper. In addition, the mine has gold, silver and other metalreserves as well.
• Charso: Discovered in 1971, the Charso copper mine is situated in Zabul province. It has 13,000 tonnes of copper.
• Bedan: It is situated in Ghor province and discovered in 1972 by an Afghan and Sovietgeologists. The mine has 1 percent pure copper.
• Minwar: It was discovered by the Soviet and Afghan geologists in 1972. The Minwar mine has the length of 15,000 to 20,000 metres.The mine has 1 per cent pure copper.
• Sardkhana: It is situated in Farah province and discovered in 1973. The mine has 2.31 per cent of pure copper.
• Gul Agha: The Gul Agha copper mine, which was discovered in 1970, is situated in western Farah province. The mine has 3 to 6 per cent pure copper.
• Ghor-i-Safaid: It is situated in Farah province and was discovered in 1970. The mine is 50 metres wide and 350 metres long.
• KohiAros: It was discovered in Farah province by Afghan and Sovietgeologists. The KohiAros copper mine is 200 metres wide and 600 metres long. The mine has 1 per cent pure copper.
• Markoh: The Markoh copper mine of western Farah province was discovered in 1970. The mine has 1 per cent pure copper with some gold, lead, zinc and other metal reserves as well.
• Garyba: It is situated in Farah province. The Garyba copper mine was discovered in 1972. It is 60 metres wide and 3,000 metres long having 3.5 per cent pure copper.
• Darbas Copper: Discovered by Afghan and Sovietgeologists in 1973 in Farah province, the Darbas copper mine is 200 metres wide and 5,000 metres long.
• Ghormah: It was discovered in 1973. The Ghorma copper mine is 120 metres wide and 1,000 metres long.
• Chwnai Copper: It is situated in southern Kandahar province. The Chawnai copper mine was discovered by Afghan and Sovietgeologists in 1967.
• Gazoghil: It is located in central Baghlan province. The Gazoghil copper mine is 300 metres wide and 500 metres long.
• Andarab: The Andarab copper mine is 100 metres wide and 1,000 metres long. The mine was discovered by Afghan and Sovietgeologists in 1972.
• Tili Du Ab: The Tili Du Ab copper mine is 200 metres wide and 700 metres long. The mine was discovered in 1972; however more details are not available.
• Ghori Sang: It is located in Baghlan province. The Ghori Sang copper deposit has 10 per cent pure copper and was discovered in 1972.
• Ashpushta: Located in Bamyan province, the Ashpushta copper mine was discovered in 1967. The 200 metres long mine has 3 percent pure copper.
• SurkhParsa: It is located in central Parwan province. The SurkhParsa copper mine was discovered during 1960-1967. It is nine kilometres long.
Small copper mines also exist in other parts of Afghanistan such as the Kotal-e-Khawak in Panjshir, Faranjal in Ghorband, Geer Ali and Tawakh in Panjshir, DahkanaKhumarCharaghani in Maidan, Guldarah in Logar, Tokhi in Kandahar and other areas. Exploration and exploitation of these mines could not be done in recent years.