The Project Paper for SDNR-II states that the development objective is “to assist the Ministry of Mines (MoM) and the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) in further improving their capacities to effectively regulate Afghanistan’s mineral resource development in a transparent and efficient manner, and to foster private sector development”. As part of SDNR and SDNR-Additional Financing the Bank supported the completion of the Aynak copper deposit transaction. SDNR-II includes support for monitoring of the Aynak mining development and preparing environmental and social regulatory frameworks. It also includes provisions relating to the preservation of Aynak antiquities.
The Request raised social, environmental and cultural concerns with respect to the planned copper mining project at Aynak/Mes Aynak in Logar Province (hereinafter “the mining project”).
The Panel noted that both Requesters and Management share common concerns and interests with regard to: i) the prevention and mitigation of potential environmental harms from copper mining; ii) the preservation of the physical cultural heritage in Mes Aynak in the best possible manner; and, iii) the resettlement of affected families to be in accordance to Bank safeguard standards. The Panel also recognized that the key social and environmental instruments that will guide the implementation of the project are still in the process of preparation. The Panel remained concerned that in the areas of involuntary resettlement, consultation and disclosure of information, there appear to be gaps between the Bank’s standards and what has taken place. The Panel was also concerned with the uncertainties in the manner in which the antiquities and the archaeological site, inclusive of what may lie in the lower strata, will be preserved at the present time. The Panel noted that, according to Management, these concerns are to be addressed in the Resettlement Policy Framework and the Archaeological Management Plan, while the environmental issues raised by the Requesters are being addressed in the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment being prepared (at the time of the drafting of the Panel Report). In this light, the Panel did not recommend an investigation into the Project and noted that this recommendation did not preclude the possibility of a future claim relating to non-compliance and harm.