"The Black Hole" Coal Mine in Afghanistan
North of Kabul, just beyond the famed Salang pass in the Hindu Kush Mountains, are found a few blackened entrances to the largest coal mine in Afghanistan.
At present, about 150 miners work in the soot filled tunnels at the Karkar mine, producing a daily output of around 50 tons of coal. Accidents are frequent, and for those injured in mishaps there is little likelihood that they will receive adequate medical attention. Explosions, fires and other incidents in recent years have taken roughly 200 lives.
A shepherd reportedly discovered the Karkar mine in 1938, after which the coal was extracted by loading it into bags and hauling it out by donkey. From the late 1950s through 1988, the mine operated with the help of specialists from what was then Czechoslovakia, and was modernized with equipment imported from Warsaw Pact states. At its operational peak, the mine employed almost 2,000 workers.
After the Soviet military withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, the mine?s infrastructure has slowly rusted. With Afghanistan struggling with its reconstruction efforts, there seems little chance that the mine will receive an influx of capital anytime soon.Add to Lightbox Download