China’s Part in Afghanistan Mining Boom

A New York Times article on the rush for Afghanistan’s estimated trillion-dollar natural resources includes details of Chinese companies’ involvement.

Already this summer, the China National Petroleum Corporation, in partnership with a company controlled by relatives of President Karzai, began pumping oil from the Amu Darya field in the north. An investment consortium arranged by JPMorgan Chase is mining gold. Another Chinese company is trying to develop a huge copper mine. Four copper and gold contracts are being tendered, and contracts for rare earth metals could be offered soon.

[…] The Mes Aynak mine, in Logar Province, is another trove of potential Afghan wealth awarded to the Chinese in 2007. It is already behind schedule, and no work has begun on a railroad yet. Mr. Shahrani is adamant mining will start in two years and blames the discovery of Buddhist ruins and artifacts, as well as Soviet-era mines that had to be cleared, for the delay.

[…] At the Amu Darya oil field in June, President Karzai’s government accused a rival, the warlord Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, of putting pressure on the Chinese oil company to make illegal payoffs. General Dostum’s party said he wanted the Chinese only to hire more local labor. And at Mes Aynak, where the government says nine villages were displaced, the mining project has caused tensions among locals contending for compensation for their land.

A collection of striking photographs accompanies the article.

See more coverage of China’s quest for resources from Australia to Zambia via Canada, Mongolia, Myanmar and Peru, as well as past posts on the threat to Buddhist ruins at Mes Aynak, on CDT.