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China eyes Afghanistan’s lithium deposits

AT News

KABUL: Chinese firms are visiting Afghanistan to inspect potential trillion-dollar lithium deposits, while others have made contacts about such projects.

Global Times quoting several Chinese businessmen in Afghanistan said Chinese firms are marking a concrete initial step in potential cooperation in developing one of Afghanistan’s biggest mineral deposits.

However, despite growing interest from companies, major hurdles and risks remain for Chinese firms to actually implement such projects, given the major uncertainties in the country in terms of policy, security, the economy and infrastructure, some mining industry insiders who have been involved in overseas projects, including in Afghanistan.

Representatives of five Chinese companies arrived in Afghanistan early in November to conduct on-site inspections, Yu Minghui, director the committee, which has been helping Chinese companies explore business opportunities in Afghanistan, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

“They have arrived in the Chinatown and are conducting inspections in Afghanistan as planned,” Yu said.

With the power transition in Afghanistan, such arrangements are hard to make and they require coordination among various companies and authorities, he said. Yu said he had spoken with the representatives of the Chinese companies and they were most concerned about basic guarantees of security and social order in Afghanistan while some praised the Afghan Taliban’s friendliness toward Chinese investors.

“Some believe friendly relations between China and Afghanistan are conducive to Chinese companies’ operations,” Yu said.

During meetings and official statements, Taliban officials expressed a welcoming attitude toward Chinese companies as they seek to rebuild the war-torn country.

Chinese officials have also extended helping hands to the Afghan people by providing humanitarian aid and resuming certain trade channels including for pine nuts.

Just on Saturday, a freight train loaded with more than 1,000 tons of humanitarian aid departed from Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, bound for Afghanistan.

Amid the friendly ties, interest in Afghanistan’s mining sector is also growing among Chinese firms, including projects involving copper and lithium, given the massive deposits estimated to be worth as much as $1 trillion.

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