Chinese firm begins work on Afghan copper min

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    KABUL: Chinas top copper producer China Metallurgical Group Corp (CMGC) has set its eyes firmly on Afghanistan and started work on a copper deposit.

    This is terror-ravaged Afghanistans first major foreign investment. The project is part of a multi-billion dollar mining venture.

    CMGC and Chinas top integrated copper producer Jiangxi Copper Co won a 2008 tender to explore and develop the vast Aynak Copper Mine south of Kabul.

    Aynak is thought to contain up to 13 million tonnes of copper and is regarded as one of the major ore bodies in the world.

    Security concerns had been holding back CMGC from starting work on the project. The deposit was discovered in 1974 and was surveyed by Soviet geologists in 1979.

    Landmines in and around the site had to be removed, and a number of large craters, caused by US bombs dropped on what was then a military training camp in late 2001, had to be filled.

    The Chinese group will invest $2.898 billion on the project. Construction work is due to finish in less than three years and the Chinese group will pay Afghan government $400 million a year to operate the mine, which should provide jobs for thousands of Afghans.

    It plans to extract some 200,000 tonnes of copper a year. It will first build a power station to run to the mine and will seek coal deposits to fuel the station.

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