Rocks From A Hard Place, February 2011
Claims that Afghanistan is sitting on $1trillion of mineral wealth made headlines last year. But the real story is the daily grind of impoverished miners taking huge risks to dig out precious stones that are then sold on the black market. Afghan officials fear the proceeds are being used to fund the insurgency.
The World Bank is working with the government to legitimise the trade, but faces huge challenges at a time when the Taliban looks stronger that at any time since 2001.
The story of the emerald miners in the Panshir Valley outside Kabul is both a tale of man’s struggle against the mountain, and the human face of a geo-political business story that could influence the balance of power in South Asia for decades to come.