Afghanistan terminates contracts of two major mining companies

Ashraf Ghani has ordered the termination of the contracts of two mining companies tasked with the extraction of gold and copper deposits in the north of the country. (AP)
Updated 03 December 2019

Afghanistan terminates contracts of two major mining companies

  • Officials from the two mining firms could not be reached for comment when contacted by Arab News

KABUL: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has ordered the termination of the contracts of two mining companies tasked with the extraction of gold and copper deposits in the north of the country, an official confirmed to Arab News on Monday.

“They failed to fulfil their financial commitments and other terms of the contracts and we needed real investment, that is why the contracts have been terminated,” Abdul Qadir Mutfi, a spokesman for the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum said, adding that the government would have generated millions of dollars from the extraction of the two deposits annually if the same had not been the case.

The decision on the cancelation of the contracts — for the Balkh Aab copper deposit in Sar-e-Pul province and for the gold deposit of Badakhshan — was taken during a High Economic Council meeting last week.

On the basis of the contracts signed in October last year, the Afghan Gold and Mineral Company (AISA) was tasked with extracting copper in a 250 sq km area of Sar-e-Pul while the Turkish Afghan Mining Company (TAMC) was assigned the gold in Badakhshan, covering a region of 250 sq km, a government spokesman said.

Remote and rugged Badakhshan has one of the richest gold reserves in Afghanistan.

Both provinces have become restive in recent years due to Taliban advances and have been subject to illegal mining by both regional commanders as well as armed men linked to the Taliban.

The Afghan Cabinet will decide when the mines will next go for bidding, Mufti said. Officials from the two mining firms could not be reached for comment when contacted by Arab News.

However, a local online agency, Khama Press, on Sunday said that it had obtained a letter from them, saying that they had fulfilled the four key obligations of the contracts.

Mutfi confirmed that Sayed Mansoor Naderi, a former minister, owned a share in both mines, but rejected allegations that the termination of the contracts was based on Naderi’s decision to drop his support for Ghani during the September presidential elections and back his arch rival instead. 

The offer of the contracts drew criticism from some lawmakers and experts last year. Bari Salaam, a former senior official with a foreign-funded think tank, Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee, said that the cancelation of the contracts may be due to political reasons linked to Naderi’s decision not to support Ghani in the polls.

“Unfortunately, the signing of the contract, apart from economic aspects, had its political reasons too and so are the reasons for terminating them now,” Salaam told Arab News.


Trump: I am Israel’s best pal in the White House

Updated 33 min 57 sec ago

Trump: I am Israel’s best pal in the White House

  • Unlike his predecessors, Donald Trump says ‘I kept my promises’
  • The president also claimed there are some Jewish people in America who don’t love Israel enough

HOLLYWOOD, Florida: President Donald Trump said Saturday that Israel has never had a better friend in the White House than him because, unlike his predecessors, “I kept my promises.”
Trump energized an audience that numbered in the hundreds at the Israeli American Council National Summit in Florida by recounting his record on issues of importance to Jews, including an extensive riff on his promise to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and relocate the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv.
Trump said his predecessors only paid lip service to the issue.
“They never had any intention of doing it, in my opinion,” Trump said. “But unlike other presidents, I kept my promises.”
Trump also highlighted his decision to reverse more than a half-century of US policy in the Middle East by recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, the strategic highlands on the border with Syria.
Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war but its sovereignty over the territory had not been recognized by the international community.
In his speech, the president also claimed there are some Jewish people in America who don’t love Israel enough.
“We have to get the people of our country, of this country, to love Israel more, I have to tell you that. We have to do it. We have to get them to love Israel more,” Trump said, to some applause. “Because you have Jewish people that are great people — they don’t love Israel enough.”
Aaron Keyak, the former head of the National Jewish Democratic Council, denounced Trump’s remarks as anti-Semitic.
“Trump’s insistence on using anti-Semitic tropes when addressing Jewish audiences is dangerous and should concern every member of the Jewish community — even Jewish Republicans,” Keyak said.
Trump has been accused of trafficking in anti-Semitic stereotypes before, including in August, when he said American Jews who vote for Democrats show “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.” A number of Jewish groups noted at the time that accusations of disloyalty have long been made against Jews.
The Israeli American Council is financially backed by one of Trump’s top supporters, the husband-and-wife duo of Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas casino magnate.
Both Adelsons appeared on stage to introduce Trump, with Miriam Adelson asserting that Trump “has already gone down in the annals of Jewish history, and that is before he’s even completed his first term in office.”
The Adelsons donated $30 million to Trump’s campaign in the final months of the 2016 race. They followed up by donating $100 million to the Republican Party for the 2018 congressional elections.
Trump’s entourage at the event included Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, along with Republican Reps. Jim Jordan and Michael Waltz, whom he described as “two warriors” defending him against “oppression” in the impeachment inquiry.
Trump criticized Israel’s sworn enemy, Iran, saying he withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal with other world powers because Tehran must never be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon
But Trump voiced support for Iranian citizens who have been protesting a decision by their government to withdraw fuel subsidies, which sent prices skyrocketing.
Trump said he believes thousands of Iranians have been killed in the protests and that thousands more have been arrested.
“America will always stand with the Iranian people in their righteous struggle for freedom,” he said.