The 30-year agreement between Afghanistan and China allows Metallurgical Group Corporation to access Mes Aynak, but the project has been stalled due to security concerns in the war-torn country. It also lies beneath a historic Buddhist city said to date back to the Bronze Age.
The prospective mine is located 40 kilometres southeast of Kabul, in a barren region of Logar Province.
According to U.S estimates, Afghanistan could be sitting on mineral deposits worth $1 trillion. The deposits are mainly copper but also include gold, iron ore, uranium and precious stones, such as emeralds.
Earlier this year Afghanistan deployed security forces to ensure that insurgents fighting to overthrow the government do not benefit from illegal mining of lapis lazuli, the semi-precious blue stone once coveted by Egyptian pharaohs.
“We are at risk of the curse of plenty, [the] curse of resources.”
— President Ashraf Ghani
Torn by four decades of war and desperate poverty, Afghanistan is believed to be sitting on one of the richest troves of minerals in the world. The value of these resources has been roughly estimated between $1-3 trillion.
— Rosie memos (@almostjingo) August 14, 2021