Chinarak coalmine extraction underway amid unclear contract
KABUL (Pajhwok): Despite the fact that the contract was signed with Afghan company one year ago, the findings of Pajhwok Afghan News show local groups continue extracting the Chinarak coalmine illegally in northern Baghlan province.
The rich mine is located between Nahrain and Barfak districts of the province.
In January 2012, the Ministry of Mine contracted the mine with Hashimi Group Co.--- an Afghan Company--- for ten years. The company invested
four million dollars on the mine and paid 1,150 afghanis for each ton to the government.
The company is committed to discharge social services and environment protection of the mine area.
In line with the contract, the company should have completed exploration process within three years but it seemed the company extracted and sold the mine contrary to the law.
Article nine of the constitution said: “Mines and other underground resources are the property of the state.”
According to Hashimi Group Co. the exact amount of the mine had not specified yet.
But residents of Nahrain district told Pajhwok Afghan News they had seen no changes in the mine after its contract with the company. “The mine has already been extracted by locals of their own. Now they are extracting the mine just with the change of management.”
The residents of Shindara and Chinarak localities demanded the Ministry of Mine and Petroleum to help stop illegal extraction of the mine because there were no measures for the safety of workers.
They warned if the ministry could not take measures to streamline things of t
he mines then it would cause human tragedy as it was done in the past.
Zamanudin, a resident of Chinarak, told Pajhwok Afghan News the private sector had been extracting the mine for nearly one year and had signed contract with the Ministry of Mine and Petroleum.
“In the past, powerful individuals were involved in extraction process of the mine and now again they are the partner of the company and extract mine for
themselves,” they added.
They expressed serious concerns over any positive change in the mine since its contract was handing over it to the Hashimi Group Co.
Haji Mohammad Hassan, a resident of Dara-i-Chinarak, said: “After handing over the mine to the private sector we were very happy and thinking that the mine would not be under the control of powerful people anymore.”
However, the company brought no visible change or adopted measures to stop extraction by powerful people, they added.
Abdul Hadi, another resident of the district, said majority of the people were not satisfied with the contract awarded to the company without consultation with the locals.
“More than one hundred pits exist in the Chinarak mine with separate owner. Workers of the mine give one third of their coal to the owner of pit and most of the pits have no safety measures,” he remarked.
Dilawar, another resident of the locality, said the company had been working on the mine for the last one year but it could not introduce steps for social services such as building of roads, culverts, bridges and clinics.
“Locals are extremely unhappy as they were promised of roads and bridges with the revenue of the mine but some powerful individuals with their personal interests kept the locals pressed,” he added.
Neither the government nor the company extended any cooperation to workers who lost their lives the mine, he said, adding there were some mine workers who got injured and now had been hospitalized in Kunduz but the company had extended any financial cooperation except 2,000 afghanis.
Talking to Pajhwok Afghan News, some workers complained about poor working condition with zero facilities.
A mine worker Mohammad Ibrahim said he got 700 kilograms coal per day while giving one third of its share to the pit’s owner and finally it reached to the market with 18 afghanis.
Hamid, another coalmine worker, said one worker took out 700 to 840 kilograms of coal out of the mine within 8 hours a day, adding there was no change in the workers’ condition.
“Prior to the award of the contract to the company, we sold the coal to the government or traders but now we are forced to sell the coal to the company it
self,” he added.
Ishaq, a resident of the locality and owners of three coalmine pits, claimed the company and few influential had forcefully seized his and some others pits and extracting coal.
“If the government pays no attention to our demands we will stage series of protests to throw out the company from the area,” he warned.
Amin, a local elder who owns three pits, told Pajhwok Afghan News before the contract with the private sector, he earned 2,500 to 2,700 afghanis from one ton of coal but his income had reduced to 1,500 afghanis.
Nahrain district authorities said they had no information about the contract of Chinarak mine with the Hashimi Group Co.
Abullah Fatah Atif, Nahrain district chief, while acknowledging the locals’ view point
said: “I have no information about the contract of Chinarak mine with Hashimi Group Co. and I haven’t received any official letter from the governor or provincial police chief in this connection.”
He confirmed substandard extraction measures were being adopted at the mine which extraction had been underway since last one year.
But Baghlan Governor Sultan Mohammad Ebadi while expressing ignorance said he had no information about the contract with Hashimi group Co.
“I did not receive any official letter from the central government about the extraction of mine or contract of
the mine,” he added.
Similarly, Abul Qadir Khurrami, Baghlan private sector chief, also expressed unawareness about the issue saying: “The governor and the private sector should have information about the contracts but regretfully it hasn’t been done in Baghlan yet.”
Abdul Khaliq Tasmim, chief of northern coalmine department said: “The Company should work in accordance with the contract and we also have concerns about the issue.”
The ministry of Mine and Petroleum had the system of audit and monitoring but he had no information why they had not controlled the illegal extraction of the mine yet, he added.
But Hashimi Group rejected the entire claims, saying they had documents from the Ministry of Mine and Petroleum of mine extraction.
The document received by Pajhwok Afghan News said: “Hashimi Group Co. has requested the ministry of Mine and Petroleum through a letter that 500 to 600 persons have been extracting the Chinarak mine since 40 years and it is their income resource. Therefore, th
e source of their income should not be closed and the ministry should give the order of extraction of some of pits to the company.”
The document said the quantity of coal extracted within
the period of discovery process will be dealt in accordance with the contract signed between the ministry of Mines and Petroleum.
At the bottom of the proposal, the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum had referred the proposal to Cadastre Directorate of the ministry and the directorate had also allowed extraction of coal to the Hashimi Group Co. while doing exploratory process.
Zabihullah Yadgar, head of administration of Hashimi Group Co. told Pajhwok Afg
han News that till completion of the discovery process the residents were allowed to extract
the mine while on completion of the discovery process, the mine would be closed for the people.
Chief of Hashimi Group Co. certified that some of powerful persons were hampering their work.
He also reminded of finalization of construction of a clinic, bath and a mosque and also would build two bridges, eight culverts and retaining walls along the riverbank.
He said the company had adequate mine excavation equipments, rescue team and modern survey machine in the area and the Company had succeeded in closure of 40 pits where mines were extracted illegally.
Before signing of the contract, powerful people extracted the mine illegally but after the contract they had prevented illegal extraction and now it was a good source of revenue f
or the government as well, he added.
Shah Mahmod Fizad, head of Baghlan Mine department, acknowledged e
xtraction of Chinarak coalmine by Hashimi Group Co. and said the ministry concerned commission had allowed the company to extract the mine while doing discovery process.
“If we stop extraction of the mine, revenue department of the ministry will be in loss and therefore we have allowed them to extract the mine while doing exploratory process,” Fizad added.
Meanwhile, in the second paragraph, 25th article of current mine law about discovery of mine said that “discovery activities cannot be changed into exploitation activities unless the holder of exploration license has received mineral extraction license in acco
rdance with articles
of the law.”
On the other hand, residents of the area complained about lack of safety measures in pits of the mine, but head of Baghlan mine department claimed Hashimi Group Co. had good equipments and adopted safety measures.
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