Located in the west part of Afghanistan, Herat is famous for its abundant natural resources in its remote areas. It has copper, iron, coal, marble, lithium, salt, stucco and previous stones.
One of the largest mines in Herat is the Shaida cooper mine, located in Chist-i-Sharif district, 65 kilometers southeast of Herat City, and is estimated to contain about 5 million tons of copper. It spreads on 250 square kilometers, is considered one of the largest mines in the province. A study of this mine was carried out between 1339 and 1351 solar years by Russian, German and American experts.
Months back, Nargis Nehan, acting minister of mines, officials of the Silk Road Company signed a contract for the exploration and extraction of the Shaida copper mine in the province.
The Silk Road Company is a private entity with domestic and foreign investors in Afghanistan, supported by Canada. Currently, a group of the firm has started working to review environment and clear the area from possible mines.
According to provincial director of mines and petroleum for Herat ZiaulHaqPopal, based on the agreement, the Silk Road Company will invest $20-30 million in three years for exploration and will extract copper over the next 30 years.
“It is a big mine in the province where the company has committed to finishing exploration issues in three years. The government by paving the way for signing contracts with foreign and domestic companies in connection with extraction the country’s mines wants to reduce unemployment among Afghan youth as unemployment has increased in recent years in the country,” Popal added.
Meanwhile, a member of Herat provincial council Abdul Rahim Timori believes that extraction of copper from the Shaida mine will bring huge economic changes in the province.
“The people of Herat are happy as contract for extraction of the copper mine has been signed. Investment on the mine will attract further investment in the province; moreover, employment opportunities will be further provided to youth in the province,” Timori said.
Security threats are the most serious challenges ahead of extraction of mines in Afghanistan. In the past few years, insecurities have also increased in a number of districts in Herat as there are concerns in connection with security threats in outskirts of Shaida copper mine.
Nevertheless, a spokesperson to Herat governor JailaniFarhad assured that by starting work on extraction of copper in the province more security forces will be deployed to maintain security of the mine.
“Soon after work on extraction of Shaida copper mine begins, sufficient security forces are determined to be deployed to the area to maintain security of the mine as maintaining security of the respective project is one of our responsibilities and we will timely take a step in this regard,” Farhad added.
Currently, Afghanistan depends on financial assistance provided annually by the international community, but extraction of various mines in the country will help Afghanistan reach self-sufficiency in near future.