Error message

Afghanistan’s vast mineral wealth could contribute to state-building and sustainable development if mining contracts are fair, transparent and effectively monitored. Prudent management of mineral resources could trigger and sustain equitable economic growth and lay the foundation for lasting peace.

45

Summary

  • Afghanistan’s vast mineral wealth could contribute to state-building and sustainable development if mining contracts are fair, transparent and effectively monitored. Prudent management of mineral resources could trigger and sustain equitable economic growth and lay the foundation for lasting peace.
  • Lessons from the award of exploration rights for the Aynak copper mines in 2008 point to gaps in Afghanistan’s contracting processes. Positive developments in Afghanistan’s finance and health sectors could be instructive.
  • Improving contracting procedures, regulations and practices in Afghanistan’s mining sector could reduce the likelihood of conflict and improve prospects for sustainable economic development. This would reduce aid dependency, create a framework for enhanced transparency and accountability, improve the quality of investment inflows and help build communities that are stable and secure.
  • In the coming months, Afghanistan could consider eliminating tied aid from resource contracts; using the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative as a mechanism to improve transparency; augmenting local capacity with experienced experts to enhance processes for the award and monitoring, and prioritizing community involvement at all stages.
  • Weak contracting processes in Afghanistan’s mining sector could become a conflict driver. It could fuel inequalities via corruption, exacerbate community tensions via land tenure issues and environmental damage, and undermine stability and security by rewarding potential spoilers.

About this Brief

The United States Institute of Peace hosted a panel discussion on “High-Value Resource Contracts, Conflict, and Peace in Afghanistan” in Washington, D.C. on July 14, 2010 to examine contracting challenges in Afghanistan’s mining sector and to propose a set of remedial measures. The panelists were: Scott Worden, senior rule of law adviser at the U.S. Institute of Peace; Graciana del Castillo, senior research scholar at Columbia University and author of “Rebuilding War-Torn States”; and James Yeager, former adviser to Afghanistan’s Ministry of Mines and author of “The Aynak Copper Tender: Implications for Afghanistan and the West.” Raymond Gilpin, associate vice president of USIP’s Sustainable Economies program, moderated the event. This report does not necessarily represent the views of the panelists or USIP.

Related Publications

Illegal Extraction of Minerals as a Driver of Conflict in Afghanistan

Illegal Extraction of Minerals as a Driver of Conflict in Afghanistan

Monday, July 24, 2017

By: Sadaf Lakhani ; Julienne Corboz

Based on qualitative surveys and focus group discussions with communities in four Afghan provinces, this Peace Brief analyzes how nonstate actor control over small-scale mining sites and illegal extraction contributes to conflict, the local political economy, and the incentive structures that support illegal extraction.

Economics & Environment; Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Democracy & Governance

Aid and Stabilization in  Afghanistan

Aid and Stabilization in Afghanistan

Monday, June 19, 2017

By: Ethan B. Kapstein

The question for international assistance efforts in fragile and conflict-affected countries is the extent to which aid programs are associated with changes in key metrics, including security, popular support for the government, community cohesion and resilience, population health, economic well-being, and internal violence. With an eye to lessons learned for the future, this report examines USAID stabilization programming in Afghanistan, focusing on whether it reduced violence, increased support for the government, and promoted other desirable political and economic outcomes.

Fragility and Resilience; Democracy & Governance; Justice, Security & Rule of Law; Economics & Environment

Industrial-Scale Looting of Afghanistan’s Mineral Resources

Industrial-Scale Looting of Afghanistan’s Mineral Resources

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

By: William Byrd; Javed Noorani

Afghanistan has been plagued by large-scale, open looting of mineral resources, involving significant mining operations, bulk transport of minerals along main roads, and crossing the border at just a few, government-controlled points. This mineral looting, amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars per year, involves widespread corruption, entrenches warlords and their networks, and fuels both local conflicts and the wider insurgency in Afghanistan. The government needs to begin to get a better handle on resource exploitation and to collect more substantial royalties and taxes from ongoing mining activities.

Economics & Environment

Kabul and the Challenge of Dwindling Foreign Aid

Kabul and the Challenge of Dwindling Foreign Aid

Monday, April 10, 2017

By: Fabrizio Foschini

This report offers a comprehensive look at the capital city of Kabul and its unique role in Afghanistan’s transition away from more than a decade of foreign occupation and violence. Social tensions are simmering just under the surface in the capital, even more so than in other Afghan cities, and have the potential to foment serious unrest.

Economics & Environment; Global Policy

View All Publications