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    Extraction work at Ainak copper mine in 2013

    KABUL (PAN): Mines Minister Wahidullah Shahrani on Monday said extraction work at the Ainak copper ore mine would start in 2013 to help increase Afghanistan's annual copper exports worth $1 billion in 2015.

    The mine, located 30 kilometres southeast of Kabul, is believed to contain more than 12 million tonnes of copper deposits.

    Discovered in 1974 and surveyed in 1978-79, the mine could not be developed 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.

    Speaking with Pajhwok Afghan News, Shahrani said the Chinese company had made its initial investment worth $300 million. The copper would be set for bidding in 2014 and Afghanistan would export 250,000 tonnes of copper by 2015, he said.

    Initially, the extracted copper would be exported by road and later by a railway line, which needed fundamental homework, the minister said.

    A Chinese company had launched a technical survey of the proposed railway track, which would connect Kabul with Torkham port and Kabul with Bamyan and Hairatan in Balkh province, the mines minister said.

    frm/ma



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