A young child is breaking coal with two other kids at his back. [Photo: Archive]

Kabul, Afghanistan – In an effort to maximize the use of country’s raw materials, the Taliban government attempts to increase its energy production from coals in industrial operations – a natural resource Afghanistan has in abundant.  

First Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abul Ghani Baradar, in a statement Monday morning, ordered respective departments to produce more energy using coal, maximizing the utmost potentials of local resources.

Chairing the economic commission, 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, as TOLOnews quoted.

“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.

“When we sell it to the traders, we don’t put any conditions on it. It is up to the traders whether they transport it to Tajikistan, Uzbekistan or any other neighboring country,” said Ismatullah Burhan, a spokesman for the MMP.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan Chamber of Industry and Mines (ACIM) exclaimed use of coals for producing more energy can help provide the needs of Afghan industries, welcoming the new approach in maximizing use of local resources.

“Afghanistan is in serious need of energy. The power generation from coal is important as there are many coal mines in the country,” said Sakhi Ahmad Payman, a deputy of the ACIM. “The industrial development is impossible without solving the problem regarding a shortage of power.”

While majority of factory owners struggle to regularly operate due to energy shortage, owners say hundreds of their employees cannot work during power outage that normally last between one hour to 12 hours a day – mainly during winter and rainy seasons.

“Lack of power creates many problems. Each factory has at least 50-100 people, when there is no power, all of these workers are unemployed,” said Baba Gul, head of the factory.

Earlier this month, Afghanistan witnessed a significant increase in coal exports to neighboring Pakistan amidst a rise in fuel prices in the international market, according to Afghanistan Chamber of Industries and Mines (ACIM).

While the increase on coal export seems promising as far as trade is concern, majority predicts an unprecedent price hike within the local market that could cost resident a lot more money than it did a few months ago. 

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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