Afghanistan’s Ministry of Mines and Petroleum said a Chinese company Gochin expressed interest in investing $10 billion in the country’s lithium deposits, according to a local media report.

The ministry said in a statement on its website that the proposal was made by representatives of the Chinese company during a meeting with acting minister for Mines and Petroleum, Shahabuddin Delawar in Kabul.

The Pashto-language statement, dated 13 April, said the lithium would be processed within the country for which Gochin will construct a hydroelectric dam and the Kunar-Laghman Road as supporting infrastructure.

The project will create 120,000 direct and a million indirect jobs, the statement said.

Additionally, in exchange for the contract, the Chinese company has offered to repair the existing Salang tunnel within seven months and build another tunnel in Salang, it noted.

In January 2023, the ministry had signed a 25-year contract with China’s Xinjiang Central Asia Petroleum and Gas Co (CAPEIC), to extract oil from the Amu Darya basin in the country's north. A Reuters report said the Chinese company will invest $150 million a year in Afghanistan under the contract, which would increase to $540 million in three years. The Afghan government would own a 20 percent stake in the project.

(Writing by P Deol; Editing by Anoop Menon)