Kabul, Afghanistan – The Ministry of Mines and Petroleum on Sunday said Afghanistan is looking for new markets to expands distribution of its coal, as India and China show interest in the product.

Pakistan is the biggest buyer of Afghan coal for many years, covering its winter needs for thousands of households in the country.

According to the official of the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, separate delegations from China and India have discussed purchasing Afghan coal, as they eye to expands its reach for exporting natural resources.

“China’s delegations want a safe way to export the country’s coal, for now Badakhshan is a good way but Badakhshan doesn’t have good roads and Chah Bahar is another way,” said Esmatullah Burhan, spokesman for the Mines and Petroleum Ministry, as TOLOnews quoted.

Chamber of Commerce and Investment said the coal mines provides job opportunities for Afghans in the country.

“Coal, and the export of coal, makes up ten to fifteen percent of job opportunities,” said Khan Jan Alokozai, a member of the board of directors of the Chamber of Commerce and Investment. 

Meanwhile, Afghanistan National Standards Authority seeks to start a lab to stabilize the quality of coal and gain credibility in global markets. 

“We want to activate a lab to standardize the quality of our coal and this confirmation will allow our coal to count in global markets,” said Ashiq Ullah Wazir spokesman for Afghanistan National Standards Authority, as local media quoted.

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In April, the Taliban government attempted to increase its energy production from coals in industrial operations, maximizing the utmost potentials of local resources.

First Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abul Ghani Baradar called for concerning departments and ministries across the country to “set priorities according to the volume of coal and the need for electricity”, encouraging immediate actions on the new plan, according to a statement from his office.

“The commission instructed the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Chamber of Industry and Mines, as well as the Chamber of Commerce and Investment, under the leadership of the Ministry of Energy and Water, to generate electricity from coal in industrial parks, large cities and other such areas,” the statement read.

Afghanistan has at least four major coal mines, according to the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum (MMP), which provide the needs of both local and international consumers.

Coal in Afghanistan is one of its largest natural resources, where most of its mines are located in northern provinces, including Badakhshan, Takhar, Kuduz, Baghlan, Samangan, Balk, and Sar-e-Pul; as well as in central provinces, including Bamyan, Daikundi, Jawzjan, Badghis and Herat. 

Afghanistan holds 73 million tons (MMst) of proven coal reserves as of 2016, ranking 62nd in the world and accounting for about 0% of the world’s total coal reserves of 1,139,471 million tons (MMst), according to Worldometers statistics.

Indigenous coal has been used in Afghanistan for small industry (notably in the manufacturing of cement and textiles, and in food processing), and as a primary source of household fuel in both raw and briquetted forms.

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