Afghanistan is known to have substantial amount of mineral deposits because of the geological structure the country is situated upon. According to the Ministry of mining operations, more than 1400 mineral deposits have been discovered including gold, copper, coal, cobalt, iron ore, natural gas, as well as oil.
With such wealth of minerals and with the onset of mining activities, Afghanistan has bright prospects to develop one of the significant mining industries of the world. Besides other minerals, possibility of significant gold reserves at 112 locations has been indicated in surveys.
Historical Evidence of Gold Discoveries in Afghanistan
The National Museum of Afghanistan located in Kabul, displays a variety of ancient gold artifacts as old as 2000 years. According to the studies conducted by a British geological survey, many areas were rich in gold deposits. These regions included areas in the northeast of the country such as the Takhar and Badakhshan and areas in southwest of country including provinces of Kandahar, Ghazni and Zabul. Historical evidence also points to the fact that gold was worked upon in these areas centuries ago.
Present Gold Mines and Reserves in Afghanistan
The British carried out extensive mineral surveys in Afghanistan during the early nineteenth century and documented these. Later on, the Russians also conducted geological surveys between 1960 and 1979. The United Nations did some research after the end of the Soviet occupation. Later, the United States carried out surveys after the Taliban rule ended.
As a consequence of these surveys, some major gold deposits were discovered on the alluvium sediments formed on the western side of the mountains between various river valleys. Some of the prominent valleys were those of Panj, Nooraba, Anjir and Hasar.
Samti Gold Mine
Located in Takhar province in the district of Chaab, this mine is spread over an area of 1.7 kilometers by 8 kilometers and is estimated to have gold reserves of over 20 metric tons. There are two smaller areas of gold deposits in the vicinity of the main Samti mine.
A contract has been given to an Afghani firm to excavate the gold. According to the contract, one fifth of the revenue is to be given to the government.
Zarakshan Gold Mine
This is the largest known gold reserve in Afghanistan, located in the Ghazni province and falls in the Maqur district. The mine stretches over 484 sq kilometers. The geological surveys conducted between 1960 and 1972 by the Americans, Russians and Germans hinted that the mine contains gold reserves up to 7500 kilograms.
Wikador Gold Mine
This mine is located at a distance of 50 kilometers from Faizabad city of the Badakhshan region. Although the dimensions of the mine are rather small, it is estimated to have very good quality gold. However, the exact amount of gold resource has not been fixed as a formal survey is yet to be carried out.
Pashani Gold Mine
The Pashani gold mine situated in the Takhar region has three adjacent areas where gold is concentrated. Further exploration need to take place at this mine to located additional gold reserves.
Nuraba Gold Mine
The Nuraba mine is located in the Takhar province and is at a distance of 10 kilometers from the district of Chaab. The mine was identified in 1987 during the geological surveys being conducted by the Russians. One survey estimated the mine is said to have a capacity to produce pure gold to the extent of 580 kilograms. An American company is presently licensed to carry out the operations at the site.
Qarzgan Gold Mine
Discovered in the year 2004 by the Afghani Ministry of Mines, the Qarzgan gold mine is situated in the province of Baghlan at a distance of 60 kilometers from district Dushi. Although the mining rights have been allotted to a private company, the amount of gold reserves is yet to be known.
Future Mining Potential
As with any region of the world as volatile as Afghanistan, there are challenges associated with setting up a commercial mining operation. Especially for outside mining interests, a stable government is important, as a profitable gold mine must be able to produce for many years.
Afghanistan certainly has good potential for gold mining in near future. This mountainous country undoubtedly has large gold deposits that have not yet been discovered yet.
Also Read: Gold Mining in Iraq
And: Gold Mining in Iran