In this Taliban stronghold in the mountains south of , the U.S. Army is providing the security that will enable China to exploit one of the world’s largest unexploited deposits of copper, earn tens of billions of dollars and feed its voracious appetite for raw materials.
U.S. troops set up bases last month along a dirt track that a Chinese firm is paving as part of a $3 billion project to gain access to the Aynak copper reserves. Some troops made camp outside a compound built for the Chinese road crews, who are about to return from winter break. American forces also have expanded their presence in neighboring Logar province, where the Aynak deposit is.
By Jonathan S. Landay, McClatchy Newspapers
The U.S. deployment wasn’t intended to protect the Chinese investment — the largest in Afghanistan’s history — but to strangle Taliban infiltration into the capital of Kabul . But if the mission provides the security that a project to revive Afghanistan’s economy needs, the synergy will be welcome.
“When you have men who don’t have jobs, you can’t bring peace,” said Abdel Rahman Ashraf , a German-trained geology professor who’s‘s chief mining and energy adviser.
“When we take money and invest it in a project like Aynak, we give jobs to the people.” Indeed, the project could inject hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties and taxes into Afghanistan’s meager coffers and create thousands of desperately needed jobs.
Beijing faces enormous challenges in completing the project and gaining access to the estimated 240 million tons of copper ore that are accessible through surface mining. Taliban -led insurgents operate in large parts of Logar and ; the area is sown with mines; and China must complete an ambitious set of infrastructure projects, including Afghanistan’s first national railway, as part of the deal.
China’s willingness to gamble so much in one of the world’s poorest and riskiest nations testifies to its determination to acquire the commodities it needs to maintain its economic growth and social stability.
The struggle for commodities….
Russia, “Desperate For Cash,” Sells Oil to China In “Very Bad Deal”