JALALABAD: The Talc Mining Society in eastern Nangarhar province has rejected reports that alleged militant groups are paid money to let the mineral exploited, but admitted some people working in the talc mining might have been extorted by the rebels.
The society’s reaction comes in response to a report by Global Witness, an international NGO that works to break the links between natural resource exploitation, conflict, poverty, corruption, and human rights abuses worldwide.
The Global Witness report said Islamic State or Daesh, the Taliban and corrupt powerbrokers in Afghanistan were making hundreds of thousands of dollars from illegal and abusive mining of talc, almost 80 percent of which is ending up in the United States and Europe.
Earnings from illegal talc mining is funding insurgent activities and fueling corruption, undermining the chances of the war-shattered country to ever see stability, warned the report by Global Witness advocacy group.
Talc is common ingredient found in baby powder, cosmetics, paint, paper and plastics.
Addressing reporters in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar, Haji Wali Khan Khogyani, head of the Talc Mining and Processing Factories Union, strongly rejected the report.
He said talc in Nangarhar was being extracted based on contracts with the government.
Flanked by the provincial Mining and Petroleum Department head, Khogyani said the Global Witness report was aimed at creating problems for the mining sector and to bring the industry to a halt in Afghanistan.
He termed the allegation that militants gained profits from the Nangarhar mining sector as far from truth and demanded evidence to prove the allegation.
Currently, talc was being excavated from mines in Khogyani and Sherzad districts under 32 different contracts and the mineral was exported to foreign countries after half processing at local factories.
But Amir Khan Yar, a lawmaker from Nangarhar province, said most of the talc deposits in Nangarhar were situated in areas where militants enjoyed influence.
He said besides militants, some politicians, lawmakers and tribal people also gained profits from mining of natural resources in the province.