کابل، افغانستان – On April 21, 2020, Afghanistan-owned and operated Natural Stone Company signed two concession agreements with the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum (MoMP) for the exploration of Kunar-Nangarhar marble and Lolanj-Parwan travertine. President Ashraf Ghani joined the company and the Acting Minister of Mines and Petroleum by video where he delivered remarks for this notable event. Not only are these the first mining concessions issued under the 2018 Minerals Law, it is also the first time that exploration rights have ever been awarded for these types of commodities.
The Natural Stone Company will invest an estimated $5 million in both projects for exploration, extraction, processing and marketing. For the past year, Natural Stone Company has worked with USAID, through its INVEST mechanism, on marketing and sales of existing supplies and promoting the new stones that these awards will provide.
Natural Stone Company’s President and Founder Mr. Asif Stanekzai said “As a result of USAID INVEST’s support, my company has been able to participate in multiple international trade and business development events where I’ve had the opportunity to engage in business development and learn about requirements to compete in international markets, including quality, tariffs, customs systems, and transportation and shipping. This is extremely important as I prepare to produce quality material from these projects, and export to the international market.” Both projects have significant deposits of pure white stone that is in demand in the global market. Now with these awards, Natural Stone Company plans to expedite exploration of both projects with the hopes of completing exploration by the end of 2020 and beginning extraction by the beginning of 2021.
Looking forward, Mr. Stanekzai said “I am grateful to INVEST for providing technical support and guidance to help me purchase a specialized core drilling rig from Italy to assist me in moving into the next phase of exploration.” Once the blocks have been extracted, they will be taken to Natural Stone Company’s processing facility in Kabul for cutting, polishing, and packing. Natural Stone Company is excited that it will be able to supply travertine to local, regional, and international markets, and plans to be the top exporter of marble and travertine in 2021.
In addition, when exploration and extraction are in full swing, Natural Stone Company looks forward to generating significant revenue to help Afghanistan’s economy as well as generate up to 1,000 direct and indirect jobs that will support long-term community and social development ranging from infrastructure to public services in these areas.