China’s mining ambitions in Afghanistan haunted by militants – by Mifrah Haq (Nikkei Asia – January 26, 2023)

ISIS-K steps up threats and attacks as Beijing eyes oil and copper

Escalating threats from Islamist militants are casting doubt on the future of big-money Chinese mining projects in Afghanistan.

Earlier this month, Xinjiang Central Asia Petroleum and Gas (CAPEIC) signed a 25-year oil extraction deal with the Afghan Taliban authorities for the Amu River oil field in northwestern Afghanistan. The company is expected to invest $150 million in the first year of the contract and $540 million over three years.

This is the Taliban’s first known international investment deal since it swept to power in August 2021, promising the globally isolated regime desperately needed cash. China is also reportedly in talks with the Taliban to exploit massive copper reserves in Mes Aynak, 40 kilometers southeast of Kabul.

However, China’s growing economic footprint in Afghanistan is attracting unwanted attention from militants. ISIS-K, the regional affiliate of the Islamic State group in Afghanistan, has stepped up hostile rhetoric against Beijing.

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