NOTE: this data release has been superseded with a new version. Version 3.0 can be found here.
Afghanistan is endowed with a broad range of mineral resources. Currently, the majority of mining throughout the country is comprised of informal and undocumented artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) operations. The exact scope of excavation operations depends largely on the mineral commodity produced. In the case of gemstones, such as emeralds and rubies, small teams of miners use manual equipment such as pick-axes, shovels, and explosives to blast the host rock to access the minerals. Other mineral commodities like talc, coal, and chromite, as well as development minerals such as construction stone, sand, and gravel, are extracted using larger, semi-industrial methods. These operations are often well-organized, mechanized, and might employ over 100 workers at a site. Regardless of scale, these undocumented mining operations have an important economic and political impact that extends across regional and national boundaries.
Efforts by Afghanistan’s government to improve transactional capacity building through the formalization of ASM operations is complicated by their illicit, unregulated, and sometimes clandestine nature. However, with support and information provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and other U.S. agencies, the Afghanistan Ministry of Mines and Petroleum (MoMP) and the Afghanistan Geological Survey (AGS) plan to develop policies by which existing ASM operations can be integrated into Afghanistan’s mineral resource development plan. This project is part of a larger effort by the USAID and the USGS to aid Afghanistan’s economic redevelopment through scientific and technical guidance regarding its mineral resources.