Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban government said it signed seven mining contracts Thursday amounting to $6.5 billion in investment, in the biggest such round of deals since seizing power two years ago.
The seven contracts are with locally based companies, many of whom have foreign partners in countries including China, Iran, and Turkey. They include the extraction and processing of iron ore, lead, zinc and gold in four provinces: Herat, Ghor, Logar and Takhar.
A statement on the contracts from Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Abdul Ghani Baradar Akhund gave few details, but said they would create thousands of jobs and significantly improve the economic situation of the country.
Any figures given for the deals could be misleading unless they lead to fully realized mining operations on the ground, which could take years, said Javed Noorani, an expert in Afghanistan’s mining sector.
“The Taliban know Afghanistan has minerals and this is cash, but it’s not easy cash,” Noorani told The Associated Press. “Mineral mining is an incredibly complicated operation. It requires a proper framework, strategies, institutions and infrastructure. You open up the sector slowly and start with low-hanging fruit.”