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Afghanistan Signs Deal with China for Aynak Copper Mine

The Afghan government and representatives of the Chinese state-owned Metallurgical Group Corporation (MCG) signed a 30-year agreement on Sunday, May 25 for the right to explore and mine the coveted Aynak copper deposit in eastern Afghanistan. The deposit, discovered in 1974, is estimated to contain 11.3 million tons of copper and will provide a much needed boon to the economy of Afghanistan and particularly Logar province.

Logar province has seen its share of violence since the resurgence of the Taliban. In the past month, three schools have been set on fire, anti-coalition protests have closed roads, and bombings have killed several police officers. Yet the mine brings new hope for the beleaguered province. The mine is expected to directly employ 10,000 Afghans and indirectly employ 20,000 more. Further, the contract obliges MGC to build new living areas for workers and provide much needed infrastructure like roads, hospitals schools, electricity, and even a new railroad line.

The mine’s impact will be felt on a national scale as well, as MGC is expected to pay $400 million in taxes each year to the Afghan national government. Afghanistan’s government faces economic challenges as it simultaneously equips troops to fight against the resurgent Taliban and rebuilds national infrastructure devastated by thirty years of war. For the time being, it appears that what’s under Afghanistan’s soil will help rebuild the nation that rests on its top.

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