There have been some slighly vague news reports suggesting that the railway from Iran to Herat may open during March. I’ve not seen anything definite yet though, and still haven’t seen any pictures of construction works.
Meanwhile, China’s thirst for copper could hold key to Afghanistan’s future is a March 8 2009 report from the South Asian News Agency about the Aynak copper mine project:
China must complete an ambitious set of infrastructure projects, including Afghanistan’s first national railway, as part of the deal.
Moreover, China must deliver the infrastructure projects that helped it snag the deal over six rivals, including Phelps Dodge Corp., which was acquired by Phoenix-based Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. in 2007.
These include an onsite copper smelter, a $500 million generating station to power the project and augment Kabul’s electricity supply, a coal mine to fuel the power station, a groundwater system, roads, new homes, hospitals and schools for mine workers and their families, and a railway line from the country’s northern border with Uzbekistan to its southeastern border with Pakistan.
The deal, Ashraf said, is structured so that by the seventh year, the entire work force will be Afghan. Beginning in 2010, 60 Afghan engineering students a year will study in China, he said, adding that Chinese language courses have begun at Kabul University.
Employment projections vary, but there’s general agreement that as many as 10,000 workers could be hired at Aynak and the coal mine in central Afghanistan, which the Jalrez Valley road project will link to the copper field. The railway will need thousands more.
Source: South Asian News Agency 2009-03-08