Rising global demand for cosmetics, marble and stainless steel is helping to fund the Taliban and Islamic State militants in Afghanistan. According to the international NGO report from May, the Taliban earns anywhere from $2.5 million to $10 million a year from mining talc alone. This is not reflective of the chromite and marble also being mined by the group.
The government of Afghanistan has failed to gain control over its mining industry and the estimated $1 trillion available in mineral deposits from the Taliban, which currently controls nearly half of the country. The gravity of the situation cannot be overstated: in 2016, mining revenue only supplied .3 percent of the country’s national budget. “The relationship between the Islamic State and mining is powerful and worrying, but it is only a case study for what is a much larger problem,” Nick Donovan, a campaign director at Global Witness, tells Bloomberg.
According to the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, Washington has poured hundreds of millions of dollars since 2009 trying to support mining development, without much success.
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