Afghanistan’s mineral wealth catches Trump’s eye – by PK Semler (Asia Times – October 8, 2018)

he Ghurian iron mine in Afghanistan’s Herat province is a perfect pilot investment target for a proposed US/Uzbekistan mining venture underwritten by the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), according to Dr Mohammad Humayon Qayoumi, chief adviser to the president of Afghanistan.

Speaking to Capitol Intelligence at the Trans-Caspian Forum in Washington, DC, in May, Qayoumi said the Ghurian mine, located on the Iranian border, could be used to supply iron ore to smelters in the north and south of Afghanistan, and even to the United Arab Emirates.

The openness by Afghanistan to US private-sector investment in the country’s nascent mining sector directly contradicts a US State Department assessment prepared for President Donald Trump stating that Afghanistan does not have the infrastructure, transportation, regulatory or environment controls to support private-sector mining in the country.

US private-sector investment in mining activity via Uzbek and Kazakh mining companies will be one of critical issues raised in US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s upcoming trade mission to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan at the end of this month.

The trade mission follows high-level summits between Trump and his Uzbek counterpart Shavkat Mirziyoyev on May 16 and with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev on January 18. The discussion of a US/Uzbek venture follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Mirziyoyev and OPIC president Ray Washburne during the Uzbek president’s Oval Office meeting with Trump on May 16.

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