• Kabul unveils first tranche of mining and oil contracts

Kabul unveils first tranche of mining and oil contracts

16 October 2012

Campaigning organisations have hailed Kabul's decision to release details of large numbers of mining and energy extraction contracts as "a landmark advance in transparency" - but say still more needs to be done.

Over the past week, the Afghan government published the 2011 Amu Darya oil contract in full, along with more than 200 small mine contracts.  The disclosures follow international commitments made on combatting corruption and on economic reform at the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan in July. 

President Karzai also ordered the Ministry of Mines to produce "a specific plan to provide for transparency regarding mining contracts".

The move has been welcomed by 12 civil society organisations and networks, including Global Witness and BAAG, which have been campaigning for Afghanistan's vast untapped natural resources to be exploited transparently and accountably. 

However, in a statement released this week, the organisations said the Afghan public is still eagerly awaiting full disclosure of the big mining contracts which have been capturing international headlines.  These include the 30 year, $3 billion lease for the Aynak copper mine.  Full disclosure of these contracts, the statement said, "will set the tone for the five strategic concessions the government is due to conclude this year, including the massive Hajigak iron ore deal".

The organisations point out that these major deals often include company commitments on infrastructure, including the building of roads, rail links and even schools and hospitals.  Making these contracts public, along with studies of how projects are expected to impact the community and environment, they say, is essential to good governance and to preventing local conflict.  This is particularly true in Afghanistan, where infrastructure and services are in short supply.

The statement says that "The Afghan people also have the right to know the risks - including risks to their health, their livelihoods, their environment and their cultural resources".  And, it adds, the Afghan people also have the right to hold their leaders, and the companies concerned, accountable for the deals they have made.

The statement suggests a series of steps the Afghan government could take to bolster the sustainability of recent reforms

Signatories to the document include Global Witness, Integrity Watch Afghanistan, Revenue Watch, BAAG, Equal Access Afghanistan, ENNA, ACBAR, Norwegian Afghanistan Committee, Heinrich Boll Stiftung Afghanistan, Publish What You Pay, Open Society Afghanistan and Afghanistan Civil Society Forum.

To read the full statement click here