Illegal mining activity in Afghanistan is at an all-time high according to statement released by the Afghan Ministry of Mines (MoM) on Tuesday. The MoM said that nearly 1,400 small and large mines are being mined illegally. The Ministry added that illegal mining has been going on for years, but as of yet no measures have been taken to put a check on it.

The Ministry said that the armed opposition and terrorist groups are benefitting from the money earned through illegal mining activities, which in turn perpetuates the security threat for the country.

The ministry added that a number of circles both within and outside the government along with several police officials are involved in the illegal mining.

“Among the 1,400 mines, 700 of them are located in Kabul and the other 700 are located in several provinces. Our officials went to these areas and interviewed the residents and workers, where they found that several powerful figures are involved,” Senior Advisor at the MoM, Asad Zamir told TOLOnews.

Meanwhile, the MoM pointed out that they handed over a list of suspected offenders to the police three months ago so that they could carry out investigations and punish the offenders.

“Three months ago we sent a list of suspects involved in illegal mining activities to the police. Illegal mining activity is worsening the security situation of the country and security officials have failed to catch the culprits. Illegal mining activities should be stopped immediately,” Mr. Zamir added.

Responding to Mr. Zamir’s comment, the Interior Ministry Spokesman, Sadiq Siddiqi said, “Based on the information we received, the police have already begun their investigation. Soon, the culprits will be behind bars.”

Previously, the head of audit at the MoM accused a number of MPs, Senators and local officials of carrying out illegal mining activity, but Mr. Zamir termed all the allegations “baseless.”

Experts feel that once the new Law on Mines is approved the illegal mining activities will reduce and the economy will start recovering. Several international investors are awaiting the approval of the Law on Mines before they can take steps to develop large-scale mining investments.