Pakistan and Iran to Turkmenistan and China by rail

Railway from Torkham to Amo Darya connects Middle Asia to Indian Ocean

Dip Engineer M Ibrahim Adel Minister of Mine of Afghanistan met with Abdul Rahim Ashur Minister of Transport and communication of Tajikestan.

Dr Jalil Shams Minister of Economy, Ministry of Mine of Afghanistan deputies and deputies from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, education and agriculture of Tajikestan also participated in the meeting.

The Minister of Mines explained the Aynak copper project to Tajikistan delegation, “a part of the Aynak project would be to extend the railway from Amo Darya to Torkham, the other parts of the railway would be in Pakistan and china that connects middle Asia to Indian Ocean in Karachi in Pakistan and Bandar Abbas in Iran“, Said Minister of Mines of Afghanistan.


“We believe that Aynak Copper Project is the start for Afghanistan to use the natural resources “, said Minister of Transport and communication of Tajikistan. He also hoped to increase the facilitated transportation between Afghanistan and Tajikistan to obtain benefits from each others resources.

Minister Ashur also noted that the 1783 Km distance from Kabul- Tashghar is shortest way to connect middle Asia to china and the government of Tajikistan is ready to make more facilities for this issue.

He also said: “whenever the Afghanistan government wants to, we are ready to negotiate about Amo Darya River “.
Source: Ministry of Mines, 2010-05-10

Aynak copper mine project update

A May 2010 update on the Aynak copper project. No mention of railways, but “exploitation activities of the deposit will begin in two years”.

Aynak Copper Deposit Exploitation on Track to Begin Operations in Two Years

The Minister of Mines Wahidullah Shahrani visited the Aynak Copper Deposit to observe ongoing research activity and equipment installation.

While visiting the Aynak copper deposit, Mr. Shahrani told MCC authorities there that the techno-economical research should be accelerated, and that according to the contract, the resulting report is to be completed in six months for presentation to the Ministry of Mines.

The main goal of the trip to Aynak was to assess the work progress thus far at the deposit. The area of demined land is about three million square meters. More the five thousand square meters of land has been drilled so far to determinate the potential capacity of deposit.

A 17 Km long security ring road also has been built, the work at the base of deposit has been completed, the building of the project headquarters is 70% competed, and more than 65 police posts have been established around the deposit.

According to the terms of the contract, it is expected that the assembly and installation of technical equipment will be completed in one year, while exploitation activities of the deposit will begin in two years.
Source: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ministry of Mines, 2010-05-27

A 2008 announcement gives details of the Anyank copper mine project and associated railway plan.

The largest contract in history of Afghanistan is signed

Exploration, exploitation, processing and smelting Contract of Aynak copper deposit signed between the ministry of mines of Afghanistan and MCC Company of China.

Eng. Ibrahim Adel minister of mines, Dr. Anwarulhaq Ahadi, minister of finance, Dr. Jalil Shams, minister of economy, Mr. Yang Houlan, Chinese ambassador in Kabul and Shen Heting chairman of MCC were present at the special ceremony for this occasion.

Inaugurating the ceremony, Eng, Adel said: ‘’I am glad to sign the contract of a project, which in viewpoints of physical mass, investment, and incomes for state and job opportunities, is the largest contract in the history of our country’’.

Pointing the history of copper resource of Aynak, the minister for mines said: ‘’about 40 years ago, the Aynak copper deposit was discovered and its exploration began, but unfortunately, its exploitation delayed for 40 years’’.

During the cooperation of former Soviet Union with the ministry of mines, there was a plan to enrich the copper ores to 30%, and as raw materials transfer outside of the country, the process of melting and infiltrating will had been there, but Afghan experts in point of national interests, restrained this plan and were not afraid in this regard.

Fortunately according to this contract, all of the exploration, exploitation, process, smelting and cathodic infiltration will done in side the country, that transfer the knowledge, experience and technology. This project provides electricity network and transportation facilities to the residences of around the copper resources of Logar province, and especially builds primary and secondary schools, regional markets, clinics and masques for the surrounding residents of the copper deposit of Aynak, Darband and Jowhar.

The minister for mines added: “This project provides high level of income for the government, and opportunities for more then 6000 people directly and for thousands others indirectly, is the largest project in the history of Afghanistan. And has other sub projects such as extinction of rail way form north of Afghanistan to Torkham border, exploration and exploitation of phosphors resours to produce the mineral fertilizer, exploration and exploitation of coal mines to generate 400 mega watts electricity – 200 MW will operate the project and other 200 mw will be bought by ministry of energy and water and distribute to people.- Each of these projects has economical and social benefits, specially the project of railway will have the basic and important role to reclaim the historic importance of Afghanistan (Silk way), and, because this railway will join the central Asia to south Asia and China, will not only play significant role in transit of mining products to international markets, but also will join the central Asian countries to the countries of south of Asia.

The minister of mines said: “While the usage of railway has vital pith for exploitation of iron mines, therefore this railway will increase the significance of Hajigak iron ore, the exploration and exploitation of which will be tendered internationally.

At the end, the minister for mines said: the implementation of this contract and investment will courage other national and international companies to investment in Afghanistan, an I am hopeful that this will be the first step toward the other large projects to interest for investment, and in the future more companies take part in tender and show their interest in investing in Afghanistan.

Yang Houlan, Chinese ambassador to Afghanistan, said: Afghan- China friendship has a long background and hope the project of Aynak will strengthen this friendship.

Appreciating the hospitality of Afghans, Shen Heting the chairman of MCC said: I am happy to gather in Kabul to sign an important contract, this project I hope to begin the new round of Afghan-China cooperation. 

Introducing the MCC Company, he added: “MCC is a large company, works under the supervision of government and have active presence in five continents of the world.”

Mr. Heting, said: ‘’this project, economically and socially is an important project for the people of Afghanistan’’, and he added that this project strengthen relationship between the two countries.

Dr. Anwarulhaque Ahadi, minister for finance, entitled the project, a great achievement for Afghanistan, and said the transparency and sincerity of its tender will provide great tendency for additional investments in Afghanistan.

He hoped that this will have not been the last contract, and in the future these kinds of project will play its role to purge the poverty and secure the national development.

Dr. Abdurahman Ashraf, advisor to the president in mining affairs and president of Kabul University, said: “Afghanistan has many more mines similar to Aynak copper resources, and I am hopeful the coming generations will sign the similar contracts for them.”

At the end of the ceremony, the ministry for mines of Afghanistan and Mr. Heting the chairman of MCC, signed the contract, and after that both of them answered the questions of journalist at a press conference.

Source: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ministry of Mines, 2008-05-25

There was an “inauguration” (start of work?) ceremony for the project in July 2009.

Copper mine project underway

Jiangxi Copper Group involved in the development of Afghanistan, Aina Ke Copper Project started

2009-7-15 Source: Dajiang Wang – Jiangxi Daily

July 10 Congjiang Copper Group was informed by the China Metallurgical Group Corporation and Jiangxi Copper Corporation to jointly develop copper projects in Afghanistan Aina Ke, July 9 officially under construction.

It is understood that Aina Ke copper from the Afghan capital, Kabul, about 35 kilometers, is considered not yet developed the world’s second-largest copper mine. 7.05,1.56%,1100, The total amount of proven resources, the amount of 705 million tons of ore, with an average 1.56% copper, copper metal content of 11 million tons for the large copper deposit. 20086, In June 2008, China Metallurgical Group Corporation and Jiangxi Copper Group, the investment consortium composed of copper in the development of bid victory. ,50% The project put into operation, the output of not less than 50% of the copper concentrate products will be in accordance with international practice and the same international prices of copper sold to Jiang.
Source: Google translation of Chinese report at Jiangxi Copper Corporation

China’s interest in Pakistan rail links

In an article at Asia Times Online, Syed Fazl-e-Haider writes about co-operation between China and Pakistan, including plans to extend the Khyber Pass line and build the Spin Boldak line. There is also discussion of a direct China – Pakistan railway.

Chinese shun Pakistan exodus

China has also shown interest in early laying a track between the Pakistan border town of Torkham and Jalalabad in Afghanistan, as the Chinese want to use the Pakistan Railways network to transport their goods and equipment for the development of copper mines and various other projects in Afghanistan. Separately, Pakistan Railways has completed a feasibility study for a rail section between Chaman, in Balochistan, and Kandahar in Afghanistan that is part of a proposed link across Afghanistan to Turkmenistan.
Source: Asia Times Online, 2009-09-11

Mazar-i-Sharif railway work to start by end of year

A report from a Chinese news agency saying work is to start imminently on extending the Uzbekistan – Hayratan railway line by 60 km to Mazar-i-Sharif.

Unfortunately the website of the Ministry for Commerce and Industries is “under maintenance” so I can’t check the source. The Rah-e-Nejat also has a website, but I can’t find the story using Google translate.

In the past there have been reports claiming that the German military is keen to see this line built, for bringing in supplies to German forces in Afghanistan. Presumably the line would be built to 1520 mm gauge, for compatability with the Uzbek rail network.

Construction of first railway in Afghanistan to begin within 4 months

KABUL, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) — Work for the construction of first Afghan railway to begin within the next four months, a local newspaper reported Thursday.

The essential project, costing 120 million U.S. dollars, would connect Uzbekistan to Mazar-e-Sharif city in north Afghanistan, the daily Rah-e-Nejat quoted a press release of Ministry for Commerce and Industries as reporting.

Afghanistan’s border town Hairatan is connected with Uzbekistan and the work for 60 km railway would begin from Hairatan possibly in this December, the newspaper further said.

A technical team from Uzbekistan would soon visit Afghanistan in connection with the project which is financed by the Asian Development Bank, the newspaper added.
Source: Xinhua 2009-08-14

(thanks to Michael G Erickson for spotting this)

Aynak copper mine railway

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

Studies for two Pakistan Railways extensions

In November 2008 Hail Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, Pakistan’s Railways Minister, told the National Assembly that two studies for railways were being considered.

One plan is to revive the long-standing proposal to extend the Pakistan Railways network by about 10 miles from the current terminus at Chamman to reach Spin Boldak across the border in Afghanistan, providing a railhead for Kandahar.

The other plan is much more substantial, being a 662 km link from Havelian in Pakistan to China via the Khunjerab Pass, which reaches an altitude of 4700 m. However it had been said in September that this route was not commercially feasible.

Pak-China rail link pre-feasibility study completed, National Assembly told

Bilour told the house in response to a question raised by MNAs including Fauzia Wahab, Muhammad Asad Khan, Yasmeen Rehman and Shereen Arshad Khan, that the PC-I for Chaman Spinbuldak (Afghanistan bordering town) rail link was completed with the cost of Rs 417 million in June 2004 and the project was to be executed by M/s Railcop, however, work could not be started due to non-issuance of NOC by Afghanistan government. The revised cost of PC-l is now assessed Rs 943.00 million, he added.

He said that the Pak-China Rail link pre-feasibility study has been completed through two consulting firms M/s L.L.F of German-Austria and M/s Don fang Electric Corporation (DEC) of China and following route has been recommended for detailed feasibility. Havelian-AbbotAbad – Batagram – Thakot-Bridge-Bèsham-Pattan -Dassu-Chillas – Gilgit-Karimabad – Sost-Mintaka Pass. The length of this route is 662 km and tentative cost is US $10.237 billion to be completed in 15 years, he informed.


Source: Business Recorder, 2008-11-11

There are more details of the feasibility studies in the February 2007 Asia Times Online article China-Pakistan rail link on horizon, by Syed Fazl-e-Haider. This says:

As a part of its development plan for its transport and communications network, Pakistan Railways has completed a feasibility study of the Chaman-Kandahar section for laying railway tracks between Pakistan and Turkmenistan through Afghanistan.
Source: Asia Times Online, 2007-02-24

China – Kabul rail plan in the Daily Telegraph

China extends influence into Central Asia, says a report about railway building in China by Malcolm Moore in the Daily Telegraph of 18 October 2008.

The move will connect Xinjiang to railway lines as far off as Moscow and Tehran and a direct route is also being planned through the Hindu Kush to Kabul. The lines will open Central Asia to Chinese goods and companies, and will serve as conduits for oil and petrol to be brought back. Source: Daily Telegraph 2008-10-18 (from the printed version – the online version has minor differences)

This Afghan line is presumbly related to the copper mine project. A schematic map in the printed version of the newspaper shows a railway continuing onwards from Kabul to Tehran. Other plans have suggested a line from the existing railhead at Hayratan to Herat, then to Iran over the line which is now under construction.

Routes from Afghanistan to China

There is a a letter in the August 2008 issue of Railway Gazette International from railway consultant David Brice, who has worked in Afghanistan providing advice on transport.

He considers the options for the railway planned to run from the Aynak copper mine to China via Dushanbe and Kashgar, concluding that standard gauge would be the best choice, and “the opportunity to avoid tedious gauge changes must not be passed up.”