The European Union’s (EU) special envoy to Afghanistan has expressed frustration over illegal mining in Afghanistan, saying the trend has had a significant impact on the economy and is fueling the war economy.
Franz-Michael Mellbin said that Afghanistan loses nearly $100 million per year through illegal mining.
“I am a little careful with numbers here, because just like when you talk numbers in the drug industry, you know there is one price the farmer gets and there is a different price at the street level. So you can calculate in different ways as these things progress towards the value change, but if we focus on the loss for the Afghan government and the state and such, we believe its foreign access of a $100 million per year. Already at the current level and this is a very conservative estimate,” the EU envoy said.
Meanwhile, monitoring group The Natural Resources Monitoring Network (NRMN) has said the illegal extraction of mines in the country will lead to a financial crisis for the country unless the government takes steps and stops the practice.
“In economic perspectives, there are a lot of people and lawbreakers who gain through the illegal mining, but unfortunately it is the government of Afghanistan whose revenues are not even in scale of a single province,” (NRMN) member Ibrahim Jaffar said.
Natural resources which have significant impacts on the national economic development are now under serious threat of illegal extractions.
The EU diplomat has said that the recommendations for the prevention of illegal extraction he submitted to the Afghan government weren’t taken into consideration by the Afghan officials.
“They are not implemented yet, there is weak legislation which needs to be changed, there is a monitoring system that also is not able to do the job and it will need also to crackdown on those who get away with impunity currently with illegal mining activities,” he said.
Meanwhile, President Ashraf Ghani’s deputy spokesman has reacted to the EU envoy’s statement in this respect.
“The legal and judicial center is expected to start its job soon. The center is responsible to oversee those elements who attempt illegal mining or plundering the public assets.
It is said that the illegal extraction of mines beside harming financial loses to national revenues also fuels the war economy of the armed opponents on the battlefields.
Statistics reveal that the Afghan government so far has identified at least 1,400 locations in various regions containing various types of natural resources.
Nevertheless, the Afghan government is hopeful that 50 percent of national revenues will be collected through natural resources by 2024.
A US geological survey has estimated the total value of Afghanistan’s natural resources to be one trillion dollars.
Mining is an important economic activity which has the potential of contributing to the development of areas endowed with the resources.