Afghanistan could become the latest country to see conflict bloom in the name of mining. The Pentagon has been busy helping promote the country as a potential new mining bonanza worth $1 trillion. The potential is there — maybe for mining companies to make lots of money, but also for mining to fuel conflict and cause further disasters for communities and the environment. Afghani Blood Gold could be on its way.
Mining is already linked to conflict in a number of other places around the world. Most notoriously, mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo funds armed groups and human rights atrocities . Mining also is aggravating armed conflict in countries as varied as the Philippines, India, and Niger. Mining even helped cause a civil war on the island of Bougainville (Papua New Guinea).
And Fuelling the conflict is just part of the potential consequences of mining in Afghanistan. Mining comes with severe social and environmental costs, including depletion of precious water supplies in arid areas like much of Afghanistan. A country dealing with major armed conflict and corruption is unlikely to be able to provide the protections needed for communities and the environment facing the mining impacts.
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