Future of Afghanistan gold reservoirs at stake:

KABUL (Pajhwok): Though Afghanistan’s gold reserves have neither explored nor excavated, rumors circulate as many as 2,000 kilograms of gold has been illegally extracted and subsequently smuggled outside the country daily.

According to Mining and Petroleum Ministry and other independent sources, Afghanistan has seven known main gold mines including the Ragh or Wikador gold mine in Badakhshan, Hisarak in Logar, Kondlan in Zabul and GarahZghan gold mine in Baghlan provinces.

Themines are situated comparatively in peaceful areas; however, reports say its illegal excavation and smugglings underway without any check from the government.

Illegal digging and excavation:

The Wikador gold mine is the largest reservoir in the country located 100 kilometres to the north of Faizabadcity in KoylarWikador village of Ragh district.

According to Prof. NaqibullahSahak, lecturer of geology and mines department in Kabul University, the Wikador mine is two metreswide and 350 metreslong.  

An official of provincial mine department wishing not to be named said illegal digging and smuggling of natural assets such as gold of Wikador mines was underway in Badakhshan province.

AmanullahPaiman, a lawmaker from Badakhshan, while rejecting the claim, said people had been strictly told to stop unauthorized digging of the mine.

Meanwhile,director provincial mines’department said he did not have latest information about the Wikador mine, adding cold weather hampering him to site the site and collect information.

The survey of Widador gold mine has been completed and but the contract cannot be awarded to any company so far.

Saeed Sadat Mansoor, head of Afghan Crystal Natural Resources Company, told Pajhwok Afghan News his company would get the mining contract of Wikador gold mine in the near future.

People in Badakhshan and Takhar provinces are concerned about illegal mining of natural resources.

SaifuddinMushtaq, district chief of Chaabdistrict in Takhar province, told Pajhwok Afghan News unidentified men started illegal mining of Nooraba gold mine in Takhar province for the last one week.

He said owner of Nooraba gold company had confirmedunidentified men equipped with heavy machinery had started extraction of gold from Nooraba mine site, which was located in Chaab district of northern Takhar province.

Its mining contract had been awarded to West London General Trading Company.

The contract was signed by WaheedullahSharani, former mines and petroleum minister, and Abdul KarimBidal, head of West London General Trading Company in May 2013.

Nazir Ahmad Amiri, former financial director of West General Trading Company,said Tajik, Russian and Pakistani employees were working on the site of Nooraba mine and extracting 10 to 13 kilogramsof gold daily.

The former employee of West London General Trading Company said despite enjoying high ranked position in the company he was not allowed to inspect the ongoing work.

However, Eng. Fida Mohammad Tashi, head of Takhar Mines Department, did not agree with the comments of Amiri and said:“We assure the people corruption will not be allowed in the mining of gold.”

In his chat with Pajhwok Afghan News,Tashi said monitoring teams visited the sites of Nooraba and Samti gold reservoirs to inspect the ongoing work.

Eng. Tashi said four monitoring teams were present in the Samti gold mine and the monitoring teams changes every two month to ensure transparency of excavation process.

On Feb 6, 2014, he said in the past month as many as eight kilograms and 500 gram gold had been excavated from the mine.

The Statements of Tashi came at a time when district governor of Chaab claimedmassive illegal digging and smuggling of gold from the mine.

The Qara Zhan gold mine is among the largest gold reservoir in Afghanistan located in QarahDoghanlocality of district Dushi in northern Baghlan province.

The mining contract of Qara Zhan mine has been signed between Sayyed Sadat Mansoor, head of Afghan Crystal Natural Resources Company and WaheedullahSharani, former minister of mines and petroleum in 2010. 

GhulamNabi, an official of rural rehabilitation and development department, blamed influential people for illegal digging and smuggling of gold form the mine in Kayan valley.

SayyedMansoorNadari, a prominent figure from Kayan valley had also been considered an influential person in the area.

However, Sayyed Sadat MansoorNadari, head of Afghan Crystal Natural Resources Company, claimed proper digging of QaraGhan gold mine had been underway since half a year.

Talking to Pajhwok Afghan News,Nadariacknowledged he did not have sufficient information about mining.

Nadari said excavation of gold was a complicated process and needed heavy machinery and time.

Problems in contracts: 

Besides illegal excavation and smuggling of natural resources, analysts and people’s representatives expressed doubt about transparency in contracts in mining or natural resources agreements by the government with internal and foreign companies.

An employee of Badakhshan mines and petroleum department on condition of anonymity said contractor of Badakhshan gold mine had close ties with members of parliament, local commanders and influential people and pay them with 60% of total revenue of the gold mine.

Similarly, AmanullahPaiman, a lawmaker from Badakhshan province, said he did not allowWaheedullahSharani, former minister of mines and petroleum, to award excavation contract of Wikador mine to any company because he could use the contract in favour of himself in the upcoming elections.

The survey and exploration work of the mine has already been completed, Paiman added.

He accused Nadari’s family of having influence over almost every gold mine in the country alleging his family award contracts to someone which make the excavation process further complicated.

Recently,Mihwar newspaper in its report revealed Nadari family hadbuilt pressure on the president to issue fresh mine draft without the ratification of parliament.

The paper in its report alleged Nadari family extracted as many as 2,000 kilograms gold from QaraGhan mine in Baghlan and later smuggled them to Tajikistan.

However, SayyedMansoorNadari rejected the allegations of smuggling and illegal excavation of gold from Afghanistan to neighboring Tajikistan.

Gold smuggling through Kabul International Airport:

Different media outlets in their reports said gold wasbeing smuggled out of Afghanistan through Kabul International Airport.

New York Times reported gold was regularly smuggled out of Afghanistan adding that a large quantity of gold was transferred through national airlines to Dubai.

Meanwhile, WaheedullahWaziri, head of Kabul International Airport’s Custom office, said every individual had the right to export gold having relevant export documents.

Waziritold Pajhwok Afghan News custom laws allowed broken pieces of gold to be exported out of the country conditionally to be returned back.

He said after growing instability in the country people try to move their wealth in the form of gold out of the country, adding that “we urged the ministry of finance to halt the export of gold via airport to the foreign countries.

Extracting gold from sands:

Analysts saypeople in Afghanistan obtain gold not only from mines but also from sends alongside the river beaches particularly in Badakhshan province.

AmanullahPaiman, said extracting of gold from sends has become tradition in Ragh district where the Wikador mine exists.

He saidRagh is known for gold where the precious metal is found in large quantity.

Locals’ irrespective collect sends from the river and later filter them in carpet where as a result of excessive wash bits of gold come out. However, Afghanistan has not any law regarding gold that comes out of the sends.

Gold is one of the precious and valuable metals which can be found in large number in Afghanistan.

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