Local Powerbrokers Behind Illegal Mining: Govt

News - Afghanistan

Illegal excavation of Afghanistan's mines is happening countrywide backed by local companies and officials in positions of power, the Office of the Administrative Affairs said Saturday.

Head of the Office's Monitoring and Evaluation Authority Sayed Ihsanuddin Taheri said that in northern Balkh province alone there have been 12 companies with no existing contracts excavating mines in the province since last summer.

"Alborz Company, Karim Sharifi Company, Aria Pamir North Company are at least three firms which are doing work arbitrarily. These three are some of the 12 companies that have been excavating mines and taking gems from Balkh province since the first of Saratan this year (late June 2012)," Taheri said.

A list of other provinces with sites being illegally mined includes Kabul, Kapisa, Parwan, Panjshir, Kunduz, Badakhshan, Ghazni, Bamiyan, Kandahar, Helmand, and Herat.

At least 12 places in Kabul believed to have some 700 gem stone mines, three gem stone mines in Panjshir including an emerald mine, and four mines in Badakhshsan are all known locations where illegal excavations are continuing, Taheri said.

The official said it was known that the illegal activities were supported by powerful local figures who help smuggle the gems and other mined materials out of the country.

Decree 45, issued by President Hamid Karzai, says that companies and individuals who are found to have carried out illegal excavations will be provided to the media once it is prepared by Ministry of Mines; however, no such list has been compiled yet.

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