The whole process was publicly attacked in a report by James Yeager, a mining expert who worked as an adviser to the ministry of mines at the time of the tender, who said the Afghan government failed to examine the poor track record of the Chinese company.
So far the project is badly behind schedule, but when extraction does happen the government could receive annual royalties of $400m, although if copper prices are low that could fall to $60m.
There are also concerns that the mine, which will use huge amounts of water and toxic chemicals, could do terrible damage to the local environment and potentially poison some of Kabul’s water supply.
Hengstmann said the Chinese plan not to build reservoirs but simply to drill wells into the ground could be disastrous.
“We always advised against that because it has not been properly investigated, no one knew the recharge rates for the aquifers or how big they were. Afghanistan is an arid country and they need to be careful.”
2010-06-30 08:07:54 UTC