Chinese Mine in Afghanistan Threatens Ancient Find

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By: Heidi Vogt, Associated Press
MES AYNAK (AP).- It was another day on the rocky hillside, as archaeologists and laborers dug out statues of Buddha and excavated a sprawling 2,600-year-old Buddhist monastery. A Chinese woman in slacks, carrying an umbrella against the Afghan sun, politely inquired about their progress. She had more than a passing interest. The woman represents a Chinese company eager to develop the world’s second-biggest unexploited copper mine, lying beneath the ruins. The mine is the centerpiece of China’s drive to invest in Afghanistan, a country trying to get its economy off the ground while still mired in war. Beijing’s $3.5 billion stake in the mine — the largest foreign investment in Afghanistan by far — gets its foot in the door for future deals to exploit Afghanistan’s largely untapped mineral wealth, including iron, gold, and cobalt. The Afghan government stands to reap a potential $1.2 billion a year in revenues from the mine, as well as the creatio