Friday, June 25, 2010
There's gold in them thar caves!
Afghanistan could be self-sufficient within a decade if its mineral resources are properly exploited, its mines minister has said.
Wahid Shahrani is in London to encourage the world's mining companies to invest in his country.
He says his country has untapped mineral wealth worth in excess of $3tn.
Mr Shahrani says that mining could move the country from being aid dependent to being self-sufficient in 10 years.
The BBC's Jill McGivering says that Mr Shahrani is on a multi-billion dollar sales tour, trying to drum up bids from the world's mining companies for his country's untapped minerals.
These include vast reserves of oil, gas, copper, gold and lithium.
Mr Shahrani sees mining as the country's economic mainstay in the future.
In seven years mining taxes should pay the government $1bn a year, he says, and within a decade Afghanistan could be self-sufficient.
In an interview with the BBC, Mr Shahrani dismissed critics who argue that such a massive influx of money raises concerns about corruption.
"We have improved our legislation, the procedures have been upgraded and we have been getting a tremendous amount of support from our international partners," Mr Shahrani said.
"In future whatever contracts would be awarded, all the information will be published, to make sure that all the relevant stakeholders, civil society and media and parliament, will have access to the information, to make sure we will have sufficient amount of the safeguards, to make sure that we will achieve the high standards of transparency."
Security is another key concern in relation to exploiting the country's mineral reserves, correspondents say.
The first big projects on offer are in the most secure regions of the country - and the government has promised investors a special mining protection security force.
Mining companies will also have to invest heavily in infrastructure - from electricity to roads and railways, Mr Shahrani said.
Posted by Steve Douglass at 5:57 AM