BAMYAN CITY (PAN): The central Bamyan province is though a mountainous region, it is rich in natural resources such as iron and coal mines.
Following its extraction in a nonprofessional and nontechnical way, the Ministry of Mines had to block most of coal mines in the province.
The vast and most important mines of Bamyan are the Haji Gak iron mines, which are considered the largest natural reserves of the country.
If the Haji Gak mine is extracted in a professional way then it could contribute millions of dollars to national exchequer and provide thousands of people with employment opportunities.
1 - Haji Gak iron mine:
The vast Haji Gak iron mine is located between Bamyan and Maidan Wardak provinces in Hindukush Mountain range.
The mine was surveyed and studied back in 1960 by different geologists, which is 16 kilometres in length and 550 metres in depth.
Britain, German, French and Russian experts took part to explore the mine; however, the most important research was done by the Russians in the late 1960s, 1970s and early of 1980s.
The Russians completed the exploration in 1970s and 1980s and finalized its extraction plan but the idea could not be materialized due to persistent unrest and lack of needed infrastructure of mines in Afghanistan.
The amount of the mine has been estimated at 1.8 billion tons ore with 62% of iron. The government said that the Haji Gak mine would help generate $300 million annually and provide more than 40,000 individuals with job opportunities.
The mine has been divided into four parts. A Canadian Mining Company is working on a portion located in Behsud district of Maidan Wardak province while an Indian company is working on its three remaining portions situated in Kalu area, Shiber district of Bamyan province.
In a contract tender in November and December 2011, a consortium of Indian companies (SAIL / AFISCO), won three blocks of the mine and a Canadian company (Kilo Gold Mines) in Maidan Wardak province won the other block of the mine which was scheduled to started in 2013.
After winning the contracts by Indian and Canadian companies, tens of check posts had been established on strategic locations on hill tops to protect the workers, however, police would yet to be deployed on the check posts.
The Indian ambassador in Kabul in November 2012 while traveling to Bamyan told Pajhwok Afghan News he had visited Haji Gak mine in order to adopt measures for the mines early extraction.
He informed preparatory work of the mine started in 2013 with help of seven India companies’ consortium.
He said his country was interested in assisting Afghanistan in mining, health, agriculture and commerce sectors.
Investment in the vast iron mine has been estimated at about $7 billion.
2 – Sia Darah irons mine:
The mine is located 22 kilometres southwest of the district centre of Yakawlang. According to the survey conducted by engineering team of Ministry of Mine in 2011, the total amount ore of the mine has been estimated 500 million tons with 63% iron.
Hamidullah Lali, provincial head of the mine department in Bamyan said other mines such as copper, aluminum, lead and silver were in abundant in the province but had not been surveyed yet.
3 - Coal mine:
Kahmard-o-Saighan and Yakawlang districts are rich in coal mines. Kahmard coal mine is located in Kalich, Ashposhtah, Chartaq Karimak and Doab Mikh Zarin areas.
4 - Kahmard coal mine:
Kahmard coal mine was discovered by Russia and its extraction was started during the regime of king Zahir Shah. Excavation of the mine continued illegally for one decade. However, after contract with the Chinese company, MCC, it’s extraction had been halted.
Kahmard coal mining has been contracted with MCC which used for power generation of Aynak copper mine in Logar province.
Kahmard coal is not viewed as that much precious or important in terms of quality and quantity because of the complexity of the mine. Its extraction faced with many problems. Its coal reserves have been estimated at about 500,000 tons. However, the mine has been extracted illegally for years.
Engineer Mohammad Karim Umid, head of Ashpostah mine, said both the government and the people extracted mines to the amount of 23,000 tons of coal monthly. The groups involved in its illegal extraction were paying 1,500 Afghanis per ton to the government.
Mohammad Hadi Saighani, Kahmard district chief, said the exact amount of coal reserves was not identified but when the mine was extracted 200 trucks were loaded and transferred to different cities daily.
“We do not know how many tons of coal of exists there, but every year only 160,000 tons of coal extracted from the Ash Poshtah mine,” he added.
Ministry of Mines blocked the Kahmard coal mine two years ago.
But extraction process of Saighan and Yakawlang extraction could not be started yet.
The Ministry of Mine would announce tender for the coal mine in Sar-i-Murgh area of Yakawlang district.
Other mines in Bamyan:
The province is rich in various mines of precious and semi-precious stones such as marble, granite, alabaster and many other kinds. However, extraction of only alabaster stone had been started amount to 500 tons.