Mines are a part of the natural resources that are hidden underground and of great economic value. Afghanistan has 24 different types of mines and is considered one of the richest countries in the world due to untapped natural resources. Mining economy is one of the few options in Afghanistan for rebuilding the boom economy. Accordingly, political instability, insecurity, lack of a clear legal framework, governance and policy management, lack of infrastructure and transfer agreements with neighboring countries have hampered the development of the mining sector in the country. But the natural resources of the Afghan mining sector are still regarded as an alternative and a privilege for the country’s economy. In October 2017, the Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Joint Independent Committee published an evaluation report on the existence of widespread corruption in the mining sector. So, in this week’s analysis: A quick overview of the mines, Mac recommendations, evaluation of recommendations, why corruption in this sector is rampant and what the solutions are.
Afghanistan’s mines and underground resources
The value of Afghanistan’s natural resources is estimated at US $ 3 trillion but in the 20th and 21st centuries the resources were not successfully developed. As Afghanistan’s natural resources are classified as out-of-date and stabilized, some research has been conducted in this regard. These studies show that Afghanistan has vast resources of metals, industrial minerals and construction materials, including iron, copper, and aluminum. Mines, forts, straw and zinc, gold, silver, molybdenum, sulfur, honeycomb, glue, chromite and others. According to estimated numbers, Afghanistan’s many other minerals include an estimated 2.2 billion tons of coal, 1.3 billion metric tons of marble, 30 million metric tons of copper, 1.4 metric tons of rare minerals and 2700 kg of gold. In the preliminary mineral research, 24 significant areas have been identified. The first step is to submit the bid.
Mining Extraction Problems
In October 2019, the Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MEC) released its Ministry-Wide Vulnerability to Corruption Assessment (MVCA) of the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum (MoMP). The original Assessment began with desk-based research in October 2017 and data collection activities took place from then until the end of July 2018, the original MVCA assessed the vulnerabilities in both MoMP’s internal operations and regulation of the extractives industry in Afghanistan. It included examining corruption vulnerabilities across each step in the mining value chain for which MoMP is responsible and developing practical measures to mitigate such corruption risks, including within entities beyond MoMP and across the whole of the sector. Based on findings from this assessment, MEC identified key areas of substantial vulnerability to corruption: 1) Rent-seeking behavior; 2) Weak Ministry governance and capacity; 3) Lack of Government accountability. For rent-seeking behavior, the MVCA report focused on issues affecting information about the country’s mineral reserves, Illegal mining, collection of payments of different Government agencies without authority, and political or other inappropriate interference in MoMP recruitment processes, leading to patronage, cronyism and nepotism influencing recruitment decisions. For weak Ministry governance and capacity, the MVCA team focused on poor coordination within MoMP and with other relevant agencies, lack of human, technical and financial capacity in Head Office and Provincial Directorates of MoMP, unclear or non-existence of necessary policies and regulations, weak legal frameworks to collect royalties, low salaries at MoMP, an unclear, lengthy and weak contract awards process and problems collecting production data. For the lack of Government accountability, the MCVA report focused on the failure to implement effective anti-corruption measures within MoMP, lack of due diligence in Government processes, lack of quality of internal audits, opaque and compromised contract negotiations, the limited opportunity for communities to contribute to effective monitoring of the industry and insufficient protections from and sanctions for inappropriate inspector behavior. The MVCA identified significant concerns in all three areas and issued 16 high-level recommendations for the MoMP and additional stakeholders. These general recommendations were further developed into 191 more detailed recommendations, based on SMART-testing by MEC. SMART-testing is MEC’s standard method of evaluating recommendations (or project objectives) based on assurance the actions and reforms would be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Resultsoriented, and Time-bound.
Corrections and Implemented Recommendations
The Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MEC) released its First Quarterly Monitoring Report on the implementation of its anti-corruption recommendations for the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum (MoMP), issued in MEC’s Ministry-wide Vulnerability to Corruption Assessment (MVCA) of the MoMP. The original MVCA was released in October 2018 and focused on anti-corruption efforts and proposed reforms in the MoMP and relevant stakeholders. Observations of MEC’s Active Follow-Up team showed improvements and MoMP’s intention for implementation of the recommendations, as a specific committee had been established in MoMP to follow the implementation process of MEC’s recommendations. MEC’s follow up on the implementation of MoMP MVCA report’s recommendations showed that 27 recommendations currently considered as fully implemented out of the total of 191 recommendations issued in the MVCA. 48 MEC recommendations have been either partially implemented or are classified as “work has started,” while 116 recommendations are pending future action. Taken together, MEC’s findings show that while there has been notable progress during this initial period since the launch of the MVCA Report, further progress is still required in the implementation of the MEC recommendations.
Mauritius Madinasali, Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MEC), says: “The law on mining is a matter of special importance at the local level, which will be based on the laws of mining contracts. Establish sufficient transparency in payments and enforcement, and everyone will be able to participate in the process of obtaining contracts and, under this law, the government, the international community and civil society can pay the contract. And monitor the exclusion of such miners that such a law is unique at the Asian level.
Why the amount of corruptions is high in mines?
Mafia and powerful people: according to the executive officer of IWA, currently, 50 members of the National Assembly misuses the mines; meanwhile irresponsible armed people illegally extract mines.
Poor Monitoring: according to the report of the IWA about the mines in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum makes contracts only by the name and then does not supervise it, and as a result causes billions of Afghanis loss to Afghanistan.
Improper Management: according to the SIGAR’s reports, the US applied 11 projects in the Ministry of Mines most of which have not achieved their objectives that were mentioned above. If the Ministry of Mines had properly managed these projects, corruption would have decreased spontaneously. Meanwhile, the Afghan government has not conducted proper management that is why 1400 mines are currently being extracted illegally in the country, 710 of which are in Kabul!
Recommendation to prevent corruption
The corruption in the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum can be prevented by taking these steps:
- The Ministry of Mines and Petroleum should amend the law of Mines; because there is nothing to prevent corruption in it. However, the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum has showed green light in this regard; but it must seriously pay attention to it.
- In order to avoid Mafia and powerful people in the area, the government’s decision about giving the authority of mine’s permissions to provincial administrations should be undone.
- The contract process of the mines should be competitive and open, so that everybody know what were the reasons behind getting the contract and losing them.
- All the contracts made by the Ministry of Mine should be published. The Ministry of Mines has published 300 of contracts but still some contracts are not among them, some important parts of some other contracts are deleted and the contracts in which the Department of Defense of the US (TFBSO) is involved are yet to be published.
- Lastly, the last 18 years of war have had devastating effects on various parts of the country which have had its effects on mining as well; We will continue to face these problems until there is permanent peace in Afghanistan.