The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.

Plan for commencement of world’s second-largest copper deposits underway

The Deputy Prime Minister’s office has informed that the Economic Commission led by Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Beradar has discussed with the Chinese Metallurgical Group Corporation (MCC) the development of the Mes Aynak Mine. During the meeting, the Chinese company introduced a novel underground mining plan for the advancement of the Mes Aynak mine, aimed at expedited project commencement. Beradar’s office wrote on its X handle the other day: “Following an exhaustive discussion, the task was delegated to the Interministerial Committee, headed by the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum.” The committee is tasked with engaging in technical meetings with the contractor company to scrutinize the proposed plan and subsequently submit a comprehensive report to the commission. Between the fifth and seventh centuries AD, Mes Aynak was a major Buddhist settlement, about 25 miles southeast of modern-day Kabul, Afghanistan. Its name is deceptive: Mes Aynak literally means “little source of copper” in the Afghan language of Pashto, but the area may have the world’s second-largest exploitable copper deposits. In 2008, the China Metallurgical Group Corporation (MCC) signed a 30-year lease for $3 billion to mine the copper. The then government’s Ministry of Mines had said that the deal was the biggest investment in the country’s history and that it would create about 10,000 jobs. However, more than 15 years after the deal was signed, mining is yet to commence. With the Islamic Emirate takeover, efforts have been underway for the extraction of the country’s mines and minerals. The Islamic Emirate is now keen for operations to begin; therefore, the economic commission has held meetings with the Chinese MCC to hear their plan for the advancement and commencement of the project. It usually takes 10 or 20 years to get a mine operating, from the discovery of deposits to feasibility studies and then the construction of the mine. It’s a capital-intensive process. In Afghanistan, this is complicated by the lack of good roads and other basic infrastructure, including reliable energy and water supplies. Although the schedule in the initial contract signed on May 25, 2008, between the then Afghanistan government and MCC, gave an optimistic road map of five years for the mine to become operational, mining is yet to commence. MCC was supposed to pay $808 million in installments for the rights to the copper mineral deposits and agreed to construct a railway, a coal-fired power station, a water supply and pipeline, and a smelter. The original Mes Aynak contract stipulates that MCC would have to request additional rights to develop mineral deposits beyond copper. Currently, the Afghanistan Ministry of Mines and Petroleum is in negotiation with the Chinese company for the commencement of the project. Mukhtar Safi

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.