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Afghanistan

For millennia, extractive activity in Afghanistan (officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, or IRA) has been entirely artisanal or small-scale in scope. Many facets of ASM in Afghanistan are under-studied, including why people engage in it, methods, materials mined, wage structure, and revenue generated. ASM practices are generally region- and commodity-specific: though some level of mechanization is used in talc-mining, for example, placer gold deposits are mined manually. Women have minimal-to-no presence at ASM sites, though child and forced labor are known problems (Central Statistics Organization and UNFPA 2017; DeWitt et al. 2021; International Labour Organization 2012). In 2012, the GoIRA estimated that about 50,000 people in the country were engaged directly in ASM, with 450,000 people indirectly dependent on ASM practices (Hart Group 2016). More recent estimates of ASM employment are not available, although it is known that informal ASM is widespread throughout the country. Read more in the Afghanistan Country Profile.

Artisanal and small-scale mining of coal at the Kalēch mine, Bamyan Province, looking west. Each adjacent canyon has several mine shafts where coal is extracted primarily using hand tools. The coal is transported from the mines by donkey (rear cover photo) before it is bagged and loaded on trucks for transport.
Photo credit: John SanFilipo, USGS 2006.

In 2012, the GoIRA estimated that about 50,000 people in the country were engaged directly in ASM, with 450,000 people indirectly dependent on ASM practices (Hart Group 2016). More recent estimates of ASM employment are not available, although it is known that informal ASM is widespread throughout the country. Many of those directly employed in the ASM sector work in private licensed or unlicensed mines or in mining operations run by armed groups or militias. In certain provinces, mining activities enrich non-state political actors like the Taliban, the Islamic State (IS), or local warlords (O’Donnell and Khan 2020; United Nations Development Programme 2020). Locals in militia-controlled regions can find work in mining, licensing, site management, security, road construction, or transportation (Lakhani and Corboz 2017; O’Donnell and Khan 2020). Daily wages vary with commodity and job description. For example, emerald miners in Panjshir Valley are not paid a daily wage but receive a percentage of the revenue from their finds (The Guardian 2009). On the other hand, in 2014, the daily wage for locals engaged in artisanal chromite mining in the Khas Kunar region along the border with Pakistan was 300 Afghanis (USD 5.30) (Shroder 2014).

Read more in the Afghanistan Country Profile.

Employment

Data Source:

Alert!

The data presented in this Version 1 of the Delve platform are from secondary sources and reflect data availability on the ASM sector. All data, countries and minerals are not yet represented. Data will be added on an ongoing basis as the global data gap on ASM continues to be filled. Visualizations created with Highcharts.com under a Creative Commons (CC) Attribution-NonCommercial license.

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