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Ancient Relics Halt Construction at Giant Afgan Copper Mine

The past can truly cast a shadow over the present. This seems to ring even more true at an archaeological site in Afghanistan. The Afghan Mining Minister said that the Aynak copper mine has been delayed thanks to the preservation activities of archaeologists.

The planned Aynak copper mine sits above one of the world’s largest copper ore deposits with proven reserves of 9 million tonnes of copper. The mine ‘to be’ is also the location of what remains of an ancient Buddhist monastery.

The remains include a temple, stupas, statues of considerable height and frescoes which all seem to be more than 15 centuries old. The Metallurgical Corp of China (MCC) is waiting for these relics to be removed from the site before it can begin work on the copper ore.

Mines Minister Wahidullah Shahrani said that the mining would be delayed due to the discoveries but it was something that they could afford. When the archaeologists give the clearance MCC will resume their mining activities.

Mes Ayank has been a source of copper since the USSR mapped copper deposits in 1974. The mining work was halted after the Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan. In 2007 the government gave a 30 year lease to MCC to develop the copper mine.

The construction of the mine began in 2008 and in 2010 the French and Afghan archaeological team made the discovery of the Buddhist relics about 800 meters away from the main mine site.

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