TALOQAN (Pajhwok): Thousands of people in the capital of northern Takhar province are engaged in sifting and washing river sand in search of gold, workers said on Friday.
The business picks up in the winter when the level of water in the river falls, enabling 3,000 Khatyan residents to step up the activity. More often than not, they succeed in finding precious metal particles.
Abdul Karim, one of these individuals, has been involved in sifting sands for gold over the past three decades. He says people from other districts of the province also come here hunting for gold.
The 50-year-old, who has been in the business, adds: “We spread a one metre long plastic piece on the bank of the river, scattering sands on it. Then we separate the sand from gold,” he told Pajhwok Afghan News.
People from other districts such as Farkhar and Kalafgan have been coming to extract gold from sands. Rajab Ali, hailing from Kalafgan, said he had enough skill to separate gold from sands. He said they identify a location before digging with the help of local tools such as shovels.
“Every riverside area doesn’t have gold. An area where there are stones in the sands often has gold reserves. The sands with gold are vastly different from common sands. We dig about such spot about 12 metres deep,” he explained. Ali earns 200 to 500afs daily.
Mohibullah, a resident of Sarasia village, said: “We extract gold everyday worth 4,000 to 8,000afs daily and then share the money among ourselves. Each worker receives up to 300afs daily.”
Takhar has coal reserves of fairly good quality which are being exploited in a non-professional way in some villages. The local population considers gold a good provincial revenue source. Gold is washed in the Takhar River, and about 2 kilograms are sold locally each day.
Construction materials like loom, sand and stones are widely available in huge quantities. Takhar’s mountains have large deposits of fine salt. The Taqcha Khana salt mine is a major supply source for the locals and others in northern Afghanistan.
But a tragic aspect is that excavation is done in a nonprofessional way, said Tahir Khan, director of mines. Haji Salahuddin, a gold businessman, said jewelers and others bought gold from workers and then sold it at high prices in the open market.