Lapis lazuli extracted improperly in Badakhshan


FAIZABAD (PAN): Lapis lazuli is being blasted out of mines in northeastern Badakhshan province, causing damage to the semi-precious stones and mines, officials said on Monday.

Lapis, locally known as Lajward, is found in deep caches in the Kirono Marjan district of the remote province.

However some locals and influential figures having been extracting the stones arbitrarily, said Haji Muhammad Akbar Khalid, an official at the Inspection department of the Ministry of Mines.

He said the non-professional extraction damages the rich reserves of stone.

According to Khalid, one way in which they are extracting the stone is by dynamiting the mine, which not only damages the mine but also destroys the stone. He said the ministry had no control over those people stealing the stones.

But mines department director in Badakhshan, Engineer Zikriya, said the ministry had given permission to some individuals to extract the stone. Each person has to pay 15 percent of their profits as tax to the department, he said.

Most of the lapis lazuli extracted from the province is smuggled to Pakistan where it is used in jewellery, and can attract prices of up to $150/carat.

Zikriya said that if the stone was extracted and exported legally, it could prove a lucrative income for the country.

Spokesman for the ministry, Jawad Omar, acknowledged the non-professional extraction of Lapis lazuli in the province and said it was a serious issue for the government.

He said they were working on a plan which would stop the illegal and non-professional extraction, however, he did not provide any details.

Head of provincial revenue department, Muhammad Alam Sadat, said that because of illegal extraction of the stone, the government last year only made 800,000 afghanis from lapis sales.


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