London: Afghanistan will be totally
transparent in awarding contracts to exploit vast mineral
wealth in the war-torn country, its mines minister vowed on Friday.
Wahidullah Shahrani, in London to promote
opportunities for foreign investors, told BBC radio that Kabul
had taken steps to clean up its reputation for corruption.
Under new legislation Kabul will "make sure whatever
will be the revenue from the mining operations, it will
collected in a very transparent manner, and they will be
allocated through the normal budgetary procedures," he added.
A recent study by US geologists found Afghanistan had
reserves of valuable minerals on a larger scale than
previously believed, possibly up to USD one trillion.
The value of the minerals, which include lithium,
iron, gold, niobium, mercury and cobalt, was estimated at
about a trillion dollars, the study said.
Former mines minister Mohammad Ibrahim Adel was
dropped from the cabinet in February after US media reports
that he accepted as much as USD 20 million to give a copper
But his successor Shahrani said today: "There are some
allegations that have been published in the media. But we have
not been able to come up with some evidence."
He stressed that Karzai`s government is working with
the World Bank, the Extractive Industries Transparency
Initiative (EITI) and the International Advisory Council (IAC)
to ensure openness.
"We have already committed to them that all our mining
operations .. should be overseen by the International Advisory
Council to help the government to achieve the highest degree
of transparency," he added.
President Hamid Karzai said in January that the
deposits could help one of the world`s most impoverished
nations become one of the richest, based on preliminary
findings of the United States Geological Survey (USGS).