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Slate mining firms face uncertain fate in Afghanistan

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Slate stone processing factories in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province are set to suffer a major setback and officials working at these factories say thousands of people will become jobless if the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum (MoMP) does not renew their contracts, whereas the companies too would lose millions of afghanis (Afghan currency) they had invested.

Miners also demand security, electricity and other facilities.

Slate stone deposits exist in the Spin Ghar Mountains in Nangarhar and are used in 130 types of different decorative, health and other objects. There were no such factories in Nangarhar province till a presidential order to set them up came out.

The mining companies here employ round 7,000 people directly and up to 15,000 indirectly in the province, but these numbers are dwindling. There are 38 mining firms and 24 slate processing factories in Nangarhar’s Sheikh Mesri Industrial Park and elsewhere in the province.

Sources say mining companies and processors had accepted all sorts of conditions in their contracts with the government but they were not given any facilities. Not even electricity, reports say, to companies that had bought their own power cables, pylons and transformers.

Factory owners said their substantial investment that runs into millions of dollars would go down the drain if the government continued to ignore them.

A government spokesman said an effort was being made to resolving small factories’ problems but those who rich enough to gain large contracts had to fall into line with the new policy.

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