Officials in the ministry of mines of Afghanistan announced that bidding the process for Balkhab copper mine in northern Sar-e-Pul province of Afghanistan has been finalized and the extraction process is expected to start at the beginning of 2013.

The officials further added Balkhab copper mine is considered to be one of the largest copper reserves in the world.

In the meantime local residents in Balkhab district called on the Afghan government to reconstruct the Balkhab-Sar-e-Pul highway before the extraction process starts.

Balkhab district is a remote area located in northern Sar-e-Pul province of Afghanistan with a population of over 70,000 residents where people are mostly facing catastrophic challenges including flooding and heavy rains due to its geographical location, besides having less access to proper roads.

The copper reserve in Balkhab district was discovered by Afghan mine specialists and is one of the biggest copper reserves in the world.

Afghan mines minister Wahidullah Shahrani during his trip to northern Sar-e-Pul province of Afghanistan said the extraction of copper in Balkhab will have a positive impact over economy of Afghanistan.

Mr. Shahrani said, “The bidding process for Balkhab copper reserve is finalized and the international proposals are being assessed by Afghan mines ministry. Afghan government will announce its decision regarding the winner in the near future.”

He did not disclose further information regarding the value of copper in Balkhab reserve but said that based on the preliminary assessments it will be one of the biggest copper reserve in the world.

Mining in Afghanistan rapidly expanded in the last decade after the Karzai administration came to power. Major mining activities are monitored and supervised by the Ministry of Mines and Industry in Kabul. Afghanistan has over 90 mineral fields, containing barite, chromite, coal, copper, gold, iron ore, lead, natural gas, petroleum, precious and semiprecious stones, salt, sulfur, talc, zinc among many other minerals. Precious and semiprecious stones include high-quality emerald, lapis lazuli, red garnet and ruby. It is believed that the country holds up to $3 trillion in untapped mineral deposits.