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Illegal extraction of Logar chromites goes on

PUL-I-ALAM (Pajhwok): Some members of the provincial council accuse the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum of allowing a company to illegally extract chromites in the Mohammad Agha district of central Logar province.
Chromite is an iron chromium oxide. It is an oxide mineral belong to spinal group. The two main products of chromite refining are ferrochromium and metallic chromium; for those products the ore smelter process differs considerably. The chromite could be used for making steal, bullets, bullet-proof vehicles and vest coats.
Afghanistan has significant deposits of high grade chromite ore, which is mined illegally in Khost and Logar provinces and then smuggled to Pakistan.
The Ministry of Mines has allowed a private mine extraction company Metal Mining UK to illegally extract the stones in Mohammad Agha district, Provincial Council secretary Mohammad Nasir Ghairat told Pajhwok Afghan News.
The illegal extraction, which had been ongoing over the past 14 years, was stopped 10 months ago, he said, adding that the extraction came to a halt in compliance with a presidential decree after the provincial authority, public representatives and local people raised the issue, but the illegal extraction and smuggling had resumed.
He said member of the provincial council went to the site and seized equipment of the company and stopped the illegal extraction, but the company extracted the stones during night.
“I saw two trucks loaded with chromites being smuggled to Pakistan through Paktia province, but I could not stop them,” another member of the council, Mohammad Qasim Khoshiwal said.
Without naming anybody, he said high ranking officials were involved in the smuggling and the practice should be prevented.
However, provincial council head Hasibullah Stanikzai said former officials of the province had been involved in the smuggling that came to an end after the appointment of the new governor.
Recently, the Ministry of Mines signed agreements with companies for extraction of chromites in Logar, but their digging was illegal, he said, adding the governor’s office and the provincial council had appointed a joint delegation to investigate the issue.
“Smuggling of chromite is common in the province since long but there is no one to prevent it,” a tribal elder in the district, Haji Farooq, said.
“The Chromite mines are national assents, they belong to the entire nation, but only a few smugglers are benefiting from the mines,” he said.
Provincial Police Chief Brig. Gen. Mohammad Daud Ahmadi neither accepted nor rejected the smuggling of the stones, saying they had sent a police team to the area for investigation.
Local mines officials refused to comment on the smuggling of chromite. But the spokesman for the Ministry of Mines, Mahauddin Noori, said they had allowed no company to extract the stone and it ws police responsibility to prevent smuggling of precious stones from the country.
He said the Cabinet had recently decided that no one could export stones to other countries with legal process.


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