Hidden Gems: Afghanistan is not only a country in perpetual turmoil, but also a geological miracle. Can they now harness 1,000 billion Euros worth of natural resources in order to lift the nation out of poverty?
“We have a lot of requests from Europe because the Emeralds from Afghanistan are the best in the world”, Raphael says. He’s a Frenchman who first came to Afghanistan to train Afghan security services before venturing into the emerald trade.
He sees a huge chance here to exploit a market that could easily increase in value twenty or thirty-fold, but the obstacles are not inconsiderable. Just to get to the mines Raphael has to travel the 150 Kilometres from Kabul to Panjshir, right through Taliban kidnap country.
When he gets there he finds an industry in the dark ages, where homemade pyrotechnics are exploded in poorly dug mineshafts, killing many miners and ruining the quality of up to 75% of the stones they dig. “If you see the damage being done to these stones… so much is lost”, Yama Torabi from Integrity Watch Afghanistan tells us.
The government here remains hopelessly out of touch with the industry that “still (uses) a mining law adopted 100 years ago”. But as the country prepares for elections and Europeans like Raphael open up the gem trade here, could this be a beacon of hope for the future?
Wild Angle Productions – Ref. 6082
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