KABUL (TCA) — In a keynote address at the Afghanistan Mining Investment Forum convened by INVEST, a global initiative of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to mobilize private investment in partner countries, Afghan Minister of Mines and Petroleum Nargis Nehan announced 43 new large and small-scale mining projects available for private sector investment and development, Afghan broadcaster TOLOnews reported on April 15.
The projects span a number of commodities and are situated in 16 of the country’s 34 provinces. After anticipated tendering, an estimated $100 million will likely be spent on initial assessments, exploration and evaluation work for these projects over the next 12 months with investments increasing significantly in the following years as projects advance.
Tenders will cover a wide range of commodities including oil and gas, gemstones, copper, gold, marble, and talc.
Nehan highlighted 14 new opportunities open to international investors in her remarks.
“For the first time ever, Afghanistan is opening opportunities for international investors to bid on ruby, emerald and lapis lazuli projects. Many of the commodities, such as marble, travertine and cement, selected for tenders have strong domestic and regional market demand. Others, such as gold, copper talc, iron ore, marble and oil and gas have established international markets,” she said.
Nehan said the Afghan government has worked hard to put in place a new Minerals Law and transparent regulations and procedures for investors to take advantage of these new opportunities. “I am proud to say that Afghanistan’s mining sector is open for business,” she said.
Due to a previous investor-unfriendly Minerals Law, there has been negligible mineral exploration in Afghanistan for the past decade at a time when mining companies have spent, on average, more than US$10 billion each year exploring for minerals worldwide, she said.
The April 14-16 forum in the financial hub of Dubai provided investors with information on conducting business, exploration and mining activities in Afghanistan, including the processes by which large-scale mining projects may be secured through competitive bidding tenders, and the mechanism by which small-scale mining opportunities can be applied for on a first-come, first-served basis.