Protect Afghan mineral wealth, NGO says

Dec. 13, 2011 at 9:07 AM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- Global Witness welcomed a measure to have transparency in the mineral sector in Afghanistan but warned of shortcomings in recent pledges.

Delegates at an Afghan conference in Germany last week lauded the mineral wealth in Afghanistan as integral to its economic sovereignty.

Global Witness, an advocacy group working to decouple conflict from natural resources, said it welcomed support from the international community.

"This kind of early intervention could help Afghanistan avoid the resource curse which has beset other resource-rich countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo or Nigeria," the group said in a statement.

Global Witness, however, pointed out that Bonn delegates failed to outline specifics about transparency in the country's mining sector.

"The key now is to turn rhetoric into reality and make sure these commitments … translate into action on the ground," it added.

U.S. defense officials estimated in 2010 that there could be as much as $1 trillion worth of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and lithium in Afghanistan. Last month, a consortium of Indian mining companies and Canada's Kilo Goldmines secured rights to explore mineral deposits in Afghanistan.

Afghan officials said production of iron ore deposits in Bamiyan province could begin in 2015.

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