After scrambling up a steep mountainside in north Afghanistan, Morad Ali crouches beside a gap cut in the slope and touches some reddish-brown rock. “The gold is in here,” he says.
Ali was one of generations of local men who used chisels and pickaxes to extract small amounts of gold from the forbidding peaks above the village of Qara Zaghan on the edge of the Hindu Kush mountains.
Now a dirt track has been carved up to the spot, and professional surveying is underway as part of efforts to assess how Afghanistan’s vast mineral wealth could be exploited as the country seeks a more stable and prosperous future.
“I started mining when I was aged about 12,” said Ali, now in his late thirties. “We would find tiny flakes of gold, or we would crush rocks and then wash the powder to pan out little grains.”
Ali’s knowledge of the landscape and its history of small-scale “artisanal” mining is a valuable asset for Afghan Gold and Minerals (AGM), the Afghan-owned company that in 2011 won the license to dig for gold in Qara Zaghan.
“We know from the locals that there is gold and our own studies show good potential - now we need to explore further,” said Dusko Ljubojevic, a South African geologist working for AGM.
“Doing the surveying on this type of terrain is like mountaineering, but I am excited. We have only looked at a small part of our license area so far.”
Any business venture faces major challenges in Afghanistan, ranging from the risk of attack by Taliban insurgents and criminal gangs to poor infrastructure, power shortages and widespread corruption.
نستخدم ملفات الكوكيز لنسهل عليك استخدام مواقعنا الإلكترونية ونكيف المحتوى والإعلانات وفقا لمتطلباتك واحتياجاتك الخاصة، لتوفير ميزات وسائل التواصل الاجتماعية ولتحليل حركة المرور لدينا...اعرف أكثر