Afghanistan in race to preserve history before China starts copper mining
AFGHANISTAN – China and Afghanistan remain deadlocked over a stalled $3 billion copper mine five months after Beijing demanded royalties be slashed by almost a half, underlining Kabul‘s struggles to support itself as foreign aid dries up.
The copper, lying beneath the ancient Buddhist ruins of Mes Aynak, is one of the world’s largest untapped deposits.
But the project has been mired in delays since state-run China Metallurgical Group Corp (MCC) won the contract to develop it in 2007.
Resurgent Taliban insurgents have tightened control over the area around Aynak, and after threats, rocket attacks and the risk of land mines, MCC withdrew its Chinese workers from the heavily guarded copper camp last year.
And then there are the Buddhist ruins. Archeological work to preserve treasures from the crumbling monastries and stupas is dangerous and slow, and must be finished before mining can begin. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani