Australian Afghan Business Council (AABC) organized Mining Conference in collaboration with ACCI on 5 – 7 May 2015 in Perth, Western Australia. Conference painted Afghanistan’s mining potential to Australian companies and government in the hope to forge business relationships and exploit the rich Afghan soils. Around 80 delegates from Afghanistan, Australia, UAE, Netherlands, PNG and New Zealand took part in the event.
The Western Australian government came out in support of the AABC, with Mines and Petroleum Minister Mr. Bill Marmion officially in opening the summit said that Australian Government would act as mentor to the Afghan government on how to encourage and create the right mining environment. “The state government stands ready to advise the Geological Survey of Afghanistan on resources management and successful systems that have helped make Western Australia a global top five investment destination,” said Mr. Marmion.
“The aim is to resume geological mapping and resource assessment with modern methods and renewed vigor,” Marmion said. “Afghanistan’s Ministry of Mining acknowledges there are challenges for developing a strong mining industry. They include improving the regulatory framework, overcoming the lack of infrastructure, and reliance on port facilities in neighboring countries. “Western Australia’s experience offers guidance in how to tackle these challenges.”
Marmion suggested the use of state agreements, which are contracts between government and proponents of major projects, to overcome the obstacles of isolation and lack of infrastructure. “State agreement provisions can only be changed by mutual consent, so they provide greater investor certainty for projects, security of tenure, and reduction of sovereign risk,” he said.
“Western Australia’s development of its resources sector is more advanced than Afghanistan, but both have vast amounts of mineral wealth still to be discovered, and both need to keep exploration at a high pitch to maximize opportunities,” he said at the summit. “Discoveries lead to mines and jobs – vital ingredients for sustainable development of resources.”
On behalf of ACCI, Mr. Sadullah Haqyar Head of Secretary delivered his speech to the summit audiences. He said I am pleased to participate in this important event for promoting bilateral cooperation between Afghan and Australian entrepreneurs and exchange of views for attracting of investment in Afghanistan’s mining industry. This conference is the joint invention of Afghan - Australian Business Council and ACCI. Afghanistan has a lot of mines, so far about 360 mines have been detected which includes emerald, lapis lazuli, alabaster, marble, fluoride, Kvartyz, coal, gold, silver, copper, iron, oil deposits...Etc.Annually a total of 960 thousand Metric tons of different gem stones and minerals are exported to Iran, Pakistan, China, India, Kazakhstan, UAE, Hong Kong, Australia, USA and European Countries. These countries are major markets for Afghanistan’s mineral products. Still a number of mines in Afghanistan are under survey, and the survey shows that the Afghan mines are worth 3 trillion Dollars, and it’s a good opportunity for domestic and foreign investment.
ACCI as apex organization in pro-businesses in Afghanistan has been cooperating in attracting foreign investments to Afghanistan and will be keeping on this cooperation.
The summit was a great success, with Australian companies such as Eclipse Metals and Geohart Consultants passing some of their knowledge to Afghan attendees. The summit also triggered talks of joint ventures and partnerships for new projects, with Afghan diversified company Omran Holding Group (OHG) President and CEO Mr. Mohammad Naser Ahmadi saying that he saw great potential in collaborating with Australia. “Now we’ve got more understanding of the mining capabilities and opportunities in Australia – we met good and expert companies and hope to work with them in Afghanistan,” he saidAccording to the Afghanistan Geological Survey, Afghanistan would hold an estimated 1.8 billion Metric Tons of iron ore, the world’s second largest supply of copper, an abundance of gold and 3.8 billion barrels of oil. It would also contain a major source of lithium. However, these resources remain largely untapped due to Afghanistan’s lack of mining expertise.