Is the mining of copper more important than a country’s cultural heritage?

June 16, 2011

Mineral exploration in Afghanistan has revealed an ancient Buddhist site discovered near Kabul which dates back to a time before Islam arrived in the country. Now this site is under threat from a Chinese mining venture.

The site, once an Al-Qaeda training camp, is now owned by a Chinese mining company.  It’s ironic that it was copper that brought the monks to the site more than 1400 hundred years ago. They mined the copper and built a Buddhist kingdom around the precious metal.  Copper led to the creation of the monastery but may also lead to its destruction.

The Chinese have purchased the mineral rights to the land andmining it will generate much needed revenue to this desperately poor country but the cost – the destruction of the whole area.

The archaeologists are adamant that the site and its treasures can be saved.  They have a year in which to salvage as much as they can and transport it to a museum.  In the meantime China and the world’s appetite for copper continues to rise but, in a country which has already been raped of its cultural heritage, wouldn’t it be nice if this time both could be achieved.

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