PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Western Australian Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Marmion this week said that the state’s experience in resource development could assist war-torn Afghanistan to rebuild its economy.
“Despite damage during the fighting following the withdrawal of the Soviets in 1989, and disruption during the Taliban rule, Afghanistan’s geological survey is now getting back on its feet,” Marmion said at the opening of the Australia Afghanistan Business Council’s summit.
“Australia has been a wartime ally and will continue to be Afghanistan’s friend as the country rebuilds its economy.”
Marmion noted that as Australia’s resources powerhouse, Western Australia's regulatory and industry experience could help guide positive mining development in Afghanistan.
The Minister pointed to a partnership agreement signed between Australian and Afghanistan in 2012, which committed Western Australia to helping the country manage its natural resources.
The partnership agreement recognised Australia’s commitment to support Afghanistan politically and in terms of development, by taking measures to include the country in trade and by cooperating to build capacity in the country.
Marmion said Afghanistan’s challenges in developing a strong mining industry included creating a robust and transparent regulatory framework, overcoming the lack of infrastructure, and reliance on port facilities in neighbouring countries.
The Minister singled out Western Australia’s use of state agreements between government and industry as a way to overcome infrastructure and isolation obstacles.
“State agreement provisions can only be changed by mutual consent, so they provide greater investor certainty for projects, security of tenure, and reduction of sovereign risk,” he said.
Marmion also highlighted the benefits of encouraging exploration that could lead to mines and jobs, citing the recent review of Western Australia’s exploration incentive scheme, that showed a tenfold economic return to the state.
Afghanistan is estimated to contain over 1 400 mineral fields and is prospective for a range of commodities, including iron-ore, gold, lead, natural gas, petroleum, copper, and a range of precious and semiprecious stones.