‘Gaps’ in NewAfghan Mining Law

Thursday, 21 August, 2014

‘Gaps’ in NewAfghan Mining Law

A Global Witness report out yesterday criticizes the new Afghan mining code for having big holes in it, risking corruption and instability.

Key objection from the group are:

  • “The new law does not provide for publication of all mining contracts or of the real ‘beneficial’ ownership of mining companies, making it very difficult for Afghans to know what deals have been signed in their name or who has benefitted.
  • It leaves out basic safeguards for the bidding and allocation of licenses, despite this being one of the areas most vulnerable to corruption, which can cost countries billions of dollars.
  • The law also sets out a complaints and conflict-resolution process that is likely to be impossible to use for small communities affected by mining. There is no provision for community monitoring of mining.”

It looks like the environmental protections have also been diluted:

“The law has some positive points, like a requirement for companies to follow the reporting requirements of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. It also has a number of environmental and social protections – but they are significantly weaker than the previous mining law. For example, assessments about the social and environmental impacts of mining are now made only after a contract has already been allocated, and rules for compensation have been changed to apply only to owners of land – not the people who are living on it.”

CSR21 has previously come across some of the original US geologists brought into Afghanistan to help structure the mining code. One geo’s experience was best summed up making repeated protestations about the need for structured tender process, then deciding to leave in a hurray having found evidence of people entering his accommodation and not very carefully resealing food products.  

There are a number of mining companies from the UK already in the region, many looking for monster gold deposits. We shall return to this subject in the coming weeks