Afghanistan signs mining contracts worth $10b: Taliban


Afghanistan's ruling Taliban government says it has signed seven mining contracts in the biggest such round of deals since seizing power two years ago.

The seven contracts, amounting to $US6.5 billion ($A10 billion) in investment, are with locally based companies, many of whom have foreign partners in countries including China, Iran and Turkey.

They include the extraction and processing of iron ore, lead, zinc and gold in four provinces: Herat, Ghor, Logar and Takhar.

A statement on the contracts from Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Abdul Ghani Baradar Akhund gave few details but said they would create thousands of jobs and significantly improve the economic situation of the country.

Any figures given for the deals could be misleading unless they lead to fully realised mining operations on the ground, which could take years, said Javed Noorani, an expert in Afghanistan's mining sector.

"The Taliban know Afghanistan has minerals and this is cash but it's not easy cash," Noorani told the Associated Press.

"Mineral mining is an incredibly complicated operation. It requires a proper framework, strategies, institutions and infrastructure. You open up the sector slowly and start with low-hanging fruit."

The Taliban have been courting foreign investment to revitalise the economy since their takeover.

Nearly 80 per cent of the previous, foreign-backed Afghan government's budget came from the international community.

That money, now largely cut off, financed hospitals, schools, factories and government ministries.

The Taliban, like previous administrations, are pinning their hopes on Afghanistan's vast and untapped mineral resources to line the country's coffers.

Logar province is believed to hold the world's largest copper deposit.