Neighbours trying to scuttle Ainak project: Governor
PUL-I-ALAM (PAN): Three years of efforts at developing the Ainak copper mine in central Logar province have failed due to outside interference, a senior official alleged on Monday.
The mine, located 30 kilometres southeast of Kabul, is believed to contain over 12 million tonnes of copper deposits, the world's largest reserves.
Discovered in 1974 and surveyed in 1978-79, the mine could not be develop for a variety of reasons, including decades of war in the country.
In November 2007, China's Metallurgical Group Corporation (MCC) won the bid to develop the mine, a project involving the largest foreign investment in Afghanistan's history and employing 10,000 people.
Mines ministry officials say MCC would pay $400 million (19.6 billion afghanis) to the Afghan government in tax annually. The company is supposed to invest $2.8 billion in extraction work.
Despite special security arrangements to ensure smooth extraction, no headway has been made so far, Logar Governor Attiqullah Ludin told Pajhwok Afghan News.
Rocket attacks and roadside bombing are being carried out to force the Chinese firm to abandon extracting copper, he said, accusing spy agencies of neighbouring countries of trying to scuttle the project.
Fearing the extraction work could stop, resident Habib Rahman warned escalating insecurity could halt the project, dealing a blow to thousands of workers.
The Taliban deny involvement of any foreign spy agency in attacks on the mine, asserting responsibility for such acts. "The Chinese company should stop work, because benefits of the mine go to foreigners," said rebel spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid.