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    Copper extraction from Ainak mine to start next year

    KABUL (PAN): The process of digging historic relics at eight sites around the world’s largest copper mine in central Logar province is nearing completion and extraction work would be launched next year, a minister said on Monday.

    Discovered in 1974, the Ainak mine is estimated to contain 12 million tonnes of copper. The government has awarded a contract to a Chinese firm called MCC, which will invest $5 billion in the mine’s development.

    According to the Ministry of Mines, the firm has so far spent $350 million on basic works.

    Reports say the existence of ancient relics buried at several sites around the mine is disrupting the extraction process, with bad security contributing to the delay.

    Mines Minister Wahidullah Shahrani told a gathering, organised jointly by foreign donors and civil society groups in Kabul, that most of the areas around the mine had been cleared of landmines and security had improved.

    The exploration of historical artifacts around the mine was ongoing, he said, adding the process remained a hurdle to the extraction work.

    He said the ministries of mines and culture were trying ensure technical and precise digging. The artifacts would be kept in a safe place to ensure their preservation, he continued.

    The extraction of copper would start next year once the digging process was over, he said. The copper would be ready for sale until 2014, the minister concluded.

    ma/mud



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