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Australia wants to help Afghan mining

AAP logoAAP 6/10/2016 Lisa Martin

Australia has used a European Union-led donor conference to pledge help for Afghanistan to develop its mining and resources sector.

The war-torn country has some of the world's largest deposits of iron, copper, cobalt, lapis lazuli and lithium.

Some resources are being mined illegally and then smuggled out of Afghanistan, which affects the country's prospects of economic growth, jobs and causes environmental damage.

According to US geological surveys Afghanistan has 1400 mining sites with mineral reserves worth an estimated $US1 trillion ($A1.3 trillion) to $US3 trillion ($A3.9 trillion).

However, security problems and corruption are factors hindering investment.

Afghanistan is one of the world's poorest countries and gross domestic product per capita in 2015 was about $US590.

Some critics argue it would be better for peace and the reduction of tribal conflicts if Afghanistan were to leave its resources in the ground.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade deputy secretary Ric Wells represented Australia at the Brussels meetings this week where he also announced an extra $10 million in emergency food aid for refugees fleeing violence.

"We are looking at how we can help Afghanistan to develop (the mining) sector," he told the conference.

Australia has sponsored some Afghan mining officials to study at Australian universities.

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