• Concerns remain around Afghanistan's draft mining law

Concerns remain around Afghanistan's draft mining law

29 November 2013

Following BAAG's letter to the Minister of Mines in July this year, member agency Global Witness released this week their detailed analysis of the draft mining law.  

In their report A shaky foundation? Analysing Afghanistan's Mining Law  (available in our Resources section), Global Witness identified a number of flaws and omissions in the draft.  These could lead to increased corruption, cause environmental disasters and would provide very little opportunity for local communities to participate in decision making. 

One concern raised is the lack of requirement to publish details of smaller contracts, allowing the government to back-track on a widely praised 2012 requirement to make details of almost all mining deals public.  The draft also allows mining companies unlimited use of water, which is very likely to spark conflict in the arid country.  Also of concern regarding conflict is the lack of provision prohibiting illegal armed groups, militias or members of the national army from benefiting from mining. 

"Militias implicated in human rights abuses have already been profiting from chromite and other resources. Remaining gaps in the mining law need urgent attention in order to guard against abuse and the loss of much-needed revenue for the country," said Stephen Carter, Afghanistan campaign leader for Global Witness.

Global Witness were quick to highlight positives in the draft law.  These include a requirement for companies to follow the reporting requirements of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, and to conduct Environmental and Social Impact Assessments – albeit after receiving a license.

Stephen Carter further commented “The opportunity to build a minerals sector around recognised principles of transparency and good governance, and the strongest possible protections against corruption and conflict, is one that Afghanistan can’t afford to miss.”

These sentiments were echoed by Justine Greening, British Minister for International Development, who met mining executives during her visit to Kabul this week.  The British government has pledged to supplement Afghan government expertise in drawing up mining contracts to ensure they protect local communities and the environment.  

Greening indicated an intention to probe the executives and officials on their commitment to Afghanistan's mining future. "One of my questions to them will be 'how can we ensure that the investment that comes in is sustainable and responsible?'," she said.

"It is critical that it is, because if it is not, we have seen from other countries, if minerals are extracted in a way that is not responsible it can fuel corruption and it can be a curse as much as a potential blessing."