Shahrani hints at major mining deals
KABUL (PAN): Minister of Mines Wahidullah Shahrani has said negotiations with Australia were underway on the next phase of helping Afghanistan develop its mining industry and tap into mineral and energy reserves.
An official at the ministry said that Shahrani, at the head of a delegation, had reached Australia to attend a mining development conference there next week.
In Sydney, Shahrani told reporters Afghanistan hoped to strengthen its ties with Australia, and that they were negotiating the next phase of their support.
The ministry official said the minister was expected to hold a series of meetings with Australian officials on the sidelines of the conference.
Shahrani, who has already met various Australian officials, acknowledged Kabul had already benefited from Canberra’s support, especially in the form of scholarships.
He said Afghan students would return to their country to help the Ministry of Mines manage petroleum the resources in the right way. He expected five or six major contracts would be awarded for iron ore, copper, gold and oil and gas by end of June.
He believed a strong mining sector would ward off the threat of a Taliban and Al Qaeda insurgency, saying security was a concern but it did not mean the entire country was insecure.
"A number of deals which are going to be signed will lead to the investment of billions of dollars. The more investment that we get, the greater stability we will witness once the people realise the benefits of the projects in terms of jobs, welfare and income."
Shahrani explained for each major deal, they had appointed international monitors to oversee the process from day one, from tender issuance to the conclusion of contract negotiations and the award of the contracts.
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