After Kabul, Herat is the second most populated province of Afghanistan. Located in the west part of the country, Herat borders Iran and Turkmenistan.
Bestowed with abundant natural resources in its remote parts, the province has copper, iron, coal, marble, lithium, salt, stucco and precious stones deposits.
Herat Mines and Petroleum Director Eng. Abdul Jamil Ilyas said that natural resources in the province had been divided into three categories -- large, medium and small.
The first category includes copper, lithium, gold and coalmines, which are mainly situated in Chest-i-Sharif, Rabat-i-Sangi, Ghoryan, Pashtun Zarghon and Guzra districts.
The provincial mines department says contracts for around 40 percent of the mines in Herat have been awarded to different companies.
These mines include marble, stucco, coal, construction stones and others. The excavation of these mines earns the government revenue on monthly basis.
Shida copper mine
One of the largest copper mines in Herat is the Shida copper mine, which is situated in the Chest-i-Sharif district. The mine is 150 to 240 meters long and 2.4 to 8 meters wide.
The mine, 65 km southeast of Herat City, is estimated to contain five million tonnes of copper
Gold of Chesht
This mine is also located in Chisht-i-Sharif district about 125 kilometres east of Herat City. It was discovered by experts from the Ministry of Mines in 2005.
According to the Ministry of Mines, samples taken from the mine and studied at international laboratories show each 1,000-kilogram substance of the mine contains a kilogram of gold.
Discovered in 2006 by the Ministry of Mines, four types of marble mines with 500 metres length and 100 metres width are estimated to contain 9.5 million cubic metres in Chist-i-Sharif district.
But latest surveys put the length of these mines at more than 20 kilometres. Local sources say marbles extracted from these mines are exported to Italy, India, China, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Taiwan and Indonesia.
Located 105 km northeast of Herat City in Karkh district, the Sabzak coal mine spread over an area of eight square kilometres was discovered by Afghan geologists in cooperation with Russian experts in 1961.
The mine is estimated to hold 11 million tonnes of coal, which has long been unlawfully extracted.
Eng. Aziz, the Sabzak mine project head, said the volume of more reserves found along the mine probably exceeds 100 million tonnes.
Under a contract inked with Czech Republic in 1976, technical equipment and tools worth $15 million for excavation purposes were purchased from the country. A second contract worth $9 million for the same mine was awarded in 1980.
Identification works of its coal were carried in three categories (A+B+C) in 1978 and 1983.
One of Afghanistan largest cement mines is located in Herat City. This mine is the biggest producer of cement in the country. The type of cement found in the mine contains polyethylene compound, which improves its quality.
A contract signed with an Iranian firm Peshgaman Sanat-i-Majad for extraction of raw materials used in cement making from the mine was revoked in 2011 due to delays in work at the site.
Marble deposits exist 180 kilometers from Herat City. These sites contain best quality marbles as compares to those found in regional countries. Herat marbles have many times won first position in world markets.
The iron mine in Herat is one of the country’s biggest. According to Herat Mines and Petroleum department, the iron ore mine is located in Ghoryan district near the border with Iran.
No contract to develop this mine has been awarded to any company so far but a part of it near the Iranian border is mined by Iranians.
Local officials say 40 percent of the small category mines including salt and lime, in Heart are being utilised.