Minerals in Afghanistan



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Afghan War News > General Info > Development > Minerals

Minerals in Afghanistan


"Don't Count Your Rocks Before Their Mined"

There are significant deposits of minerals in Afghanistan - that if managed properly could be a great stream of revenue for the Afghan government and be the catalyst for an Afghan economy that needs lots of help. However, there are lots of problems in getting the mineral deposits to be of benefit to Afghanistan. First there is the insurgency that will very likely continue well beyond the departure of the coalition forces in 2014. Second, the problem of corruption will continue to hamper the harnessing of the economic benefits associated with the vast mineral deposits of Afghanistan.

Major Mineral Operations in Afghanistan (opens a new page)

      Afghan Marble Industry
     Hajigak Iron Ore Mine
     Mes Aynak Copper Mine

Afghanistan Geological Survey.  A part of the Ministry of Mines, the Afghanistan Geological Survey provides info on Afghan geology, the mining industry, and minerals. The website is available here.

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The USGS has conducted a number of projects in Afghanistan. Between 2004 and 2014, researches with the USGS worked with Afghan colleagues to develop the mining capabilities of Afghanistan. 1. 

News Sources on Mining in Afghanistan

Pajhwok Afghan News - Special Mines Page

Papers and Publications about Mining and Minerals in Afghanistan


Giustozzi, Antonio, Briefing Paper: The Taliban and Afghanistan's Mines, Center for Research and Policy Analysis (CRPA).

SIGAR, Quarterly Report to the United States Congress, Special Inspector General for  Afghanistan Reconstruction, January 30, 2018. This report, 293-pages long, has a long section about mineral mining in Afghanistan. See pages 1-20, "Lessons for Afghan Mineral Development".


USIP, Illegal Extraction of Minerals as a Driver of Conflict in Afghanistan, United States Institute of Peace, July 24, 2017.


Global Witness, War in the Treasury of the People: Afghanistan, Lapis Lazuli and the Battle for Mineral Wealth, a report on how the Taliban and other armed groups are earning up to 20 million dollars per year from Afghanistan's lapis mines.


SIGAR, Afghanistan's Mineral, Oil, and Gas Industries: Unless U.S. Agencies Act Soon to Sustain Investments Made, $488 Million in Funding is at Risk, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, SIGAR 15-55 Audit Report, April 2015.


Byrd, William and Javed Noorani. Exploitation of Mineral Resources in Afghanistan, December 1, 2014. United States Institute of Peace. The paper asks where are the government revenues or development benefits?

Global Witness. Building for the Long-Term: Avoiding the Resource Curse in Afghanistan, February 2014. Transparency and proper regulation is needed to ensure extraction does not fuel corruption and and conflict.


Lakhani, Sadaf. Extractive Industries and Peacebuilding in Afghanistan: The Role of Social Accountability, United States Institute of Peace (USIP), October 30, 2013.


Byrd, William. Political Economy and Conflict Dimensions of Afghanistan's Mineral Resources: A Preliminary Exploration, United States Institute of Peace (USIP), December 18, 2012.

Hashemi, Sayed Zaman. The Minerals Law, May 2012. The director of Legal Services for the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ministry of Mines provides a presentation on the Minerals Law.

Maps Related to Minerals in Afghanistan

Mineral Maps of Afghanistan. Afghan Cadastre Maps.

Map of Afghan Mineral Tenders.

USGS Projects in Afghanistan. U.S. Geological Survey.

Publications & Maps Afghanistan. U.S. Geological Survey.

Videos about Minerals in Afghanistan

NATO TV, Mining for minerals in Afghanistan, March 10, 2014. Video depicts members of the Afghanistan Geological Survey at work. (3 minutes long).

News Reports about Minerals in Afghanistan

July 25, 2017. "Trump Finds Reason for the U.S. to Remain in Afghanistan: Minerals", The New York Times.

June 8, 2016. "Afghan Security Forces Deploy to Prevent Illegal Mining", The New York Times.

June 6, 2016. "Global Witness' Mistake on the Afghanistan Mining and Gem Trade: There's No $1 Trillion There", Forbes.com Opinion by Tim Worstall.

September 6, 2015. "Afghan government accused of failing to protect lucrative mining sector from graft, conflict", U.S. News & World Report.

May 26, 2015. "Afghan Minerals, Another Failure". The New York Times. An editorial laments the inability of the U.S. to create an Afghan institution that can take charge of the extraction projects, establish regulations, and put in place necessary reforms.

May 7, 2015. "President pushes for fair mining contracts". Pajhwok News. President Ghani is stressing transparency in mining contracts and for the framing of a prudent policy for the development of the cement industry.

February 20, 2015. "Minister Says Mining Contracts to be Reexamined". Tolo News. The Minister of Mines and Petroleum announced that a team of technical experts would be reassessing the majority of mining contracts around the country given the lack of transparency in the process that awarded the contracts.

November 12, 2014. "Copper and lithium may be the keys to Afghanistan's economic future". The Conversation.

November 10, 2014. "War, uncertainty keep Afghanistan from unlocking vast mineral wealth". Business Vancouver.

October 30, 2014. "The new minerals law: breaking new ground for Afghanistan". The Guardian. Following two years of drafting, Afghanistan has a new minerals law. The question is will it improve sector governance and catalyse the massive investment needed?

September 10, 2014. All That Glitters in Afghanistan, Inside Science. An extensive article provides info on deposits of copper and iron as well as rare earth minerals.

March 15, 2014. "Cure or Curse? Implications of the Kilij mine closure for Bamyan's security situtation". Afghanistan Analysts Network. The closure of two coal mines by the Afghan government cost local inhabitants jobs, raised fuel prices, and increased instability and support for the Taliban in two districts.

March 10, 2014. "New Maps of Afghanistan Provide "Fingerprint" of Natural Resources". USGS Newsroom.

February 27, 2014. "Afghanistan Mineral Riches Won't Go Anywhere Without Rail". Bloomberg.com. Discussion of importance of railways to mineral wealth.

February 10, 2014. "Afghan Extractive Industry: Are abundant natural resources a blessing or a curse?". Relentlessly Alive Blog.

January 13, 2014. "Afghanistan Awards Tender for Major Copper Deposits". Radio Free Europe. The Afghan government provides license to develop a large copper deposit in the country's north region.

December 16, 2013. "New mining law delays big project in Afghanistan". Steel Times International.

October 8, 2013. "In Afghanistan, villagers and government battle over blame for coal mine collapse". The Washington Post. Villages say mine collapsed because of government incompetence; mine now shut down.

October 3, 2013. "Mineral Wealth Could Harm, Not Help, Afghanistan's Future". Radio Free Europe. Corrupt by Afghan government elite hurts mineral development process.

July 31, 2011. "Warlords, government capacity threaten Afghan mining: watchdog". Seniorific.com. Access story here.




1. See USGS Projects in Afghanistan, U.S. Geological Survey.


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