lapis lazuli

Before we get into the whole of Afghanistan’s Lapis Lazuli Mines topic…

First, I will set some ground rules for myself and ask that you kindly keep to the same in any commenting (these are pretty much the rules I stick to for what I post about, in general, so I can discern if it’s within the realm of what our community is expecting to learn from me and also not contribute to any division or separation… certain topics have a way of doing that even if it’s not the original intention)

Ground Rules

  1. No political discussion – please put politics aside
  2. No religious discussion – please put religion aside
  3. No vaccine discussion – please put opinions aside (WTH does that have to do with this topic? I don’t know — but somehow, lately, it ends up sneaking into everything so I’m just putting it out there… stay off this topic here too.)
  4. No bringing up the general ethics of mining minerals (I’ve already written an opinion piece on that topic here, feel free to dive in deep and comment there on that — BUT NOT HERE).

(Any rule-breaking comments will simply be deleted… so please don’t bother wasting your time.)

Don’t forget to download your FREE 9 Tips for Spotting Fake Lapis Lazuli pdf before you leave! This will also subscribe you to my bi-weekly newsletter.

Fouling up Afghanistan’s Lapis Lazuli Mines

So yep, we’re talking about the extremely attractive + valuable semi-precious stone, lapis lazuli here again today. In case you didn’t know, the out-of-the-way Afghan province of Badakshan has been the birthplace of most of the world’s beautiful and highly coveted Lapis Lazuli for at least 6,000 years.

Afghanistan's Lapis Lazuli Mines

In spite of being one of the poorest countries on the planet, geologists value Afghanistan’s ancient mine shafts and mineral resources at approximately $1 trillion!!

Yeah, TRILLION with a “T”.

So today I want to AGAIN, address the topic of the Taliban fouling up Afghanistan’s cherished Lapis Lazuli mines (and that of other minerals too). It was previously reported that the Afghan Lapis Lazuli profits were being channeled directly into the pockets of senior politicians, leaders, and top officials, but at the same time, had also become a major source of income for the Taliban and other revolutionary militias. Of course, not being there in person to witness this, I’ve been going off of the many reports from both media and first-hand eye witness of mineral dealers from that area.

Word on the street is that:

All Afghan mineral sources (not just lapis) were the property of the government, but several years ago the Badakshan mines were commandeered by a former general, now-warlord, Abdul Malik.

By “leasing” the rights to use the mines out to illegal miners, it now seems Malik essentially declared the mine his (and the Taliban’s) and is raking in millions of dollars per year!

And, due to recent events, it seems that The Taliban is now in FULL control (more so now than ever before!) of $1 trillion worth of illegal mining of minerals — stealing from Afghanistan’s extraordinary natural abundance.

In addition to the corruption I’ve already addressed, Afghanistan ranks a measly 165th out of 180 countries in the Transparency International’s latest assessment/report on dishonest and criminal trade around the Earth.

The United Nations has approximated that the Taliban’s mineral income is their second-largest source of revenue. Opium being the first.

Hence, Afghan lapis is indeed a conflict mineral — in case there was any doubt.

You can read more on this topic in this BBC article if you like.

THIS IS NOT NEW!

I’ve been reporting on it, researching, and trying to bring attention to this matter for five years:

This is a topic I’ve been quite passionate about —

yet still uneasy about addressing for the very same reasons that it made me nervous when I first brought it up back in 2016. But due to recent events, I feel I have a responsibility to bring it up… again.

Afghanistan's Lapis Lazuli Mines

Five years ago, when this problem first came to light for me, I decided I have a duty to take advantage of the platform I’m very grateful to have here in our online crystal community.  I decided to ignore my little uneasy sensations and energy (when I get those feelings it usually means that I SHOULD share my thoughts).

What gives me this anxiousness around addressing this issue?:

  • the controversy
  • the political energy around it
  • possibly not having all the facts straight
  • using the word “Taliban” on the open Internet

Thoughts going through my head:

  • Maybe, some will get very angry with me for bringing it up (because it will leave them stuck with lapis stock they cannot move.)
  • Maybe I’ll get canceled. (Can’t think of a reason why I should but these days, some get offended + “off to the races” social media goes — so WHO KNOWS!)
  • Maybe I’m wrong to keep bringing it up… but I feel a stronger need than ever to bring awareness to this situation.

Why?

Well, it seemed in the past when I brought it up — it was viewed as an inconvenient truth that no one really wanted to hear about or pretend wasn’t happening. I could tell because other topics I talked or blogged about would get high engagement but this one?… sort of stayed MUM.

“Sweep that shit under the crystal shop rug!”

For both certain sellers and for some who wanted to go on blissfully collecting their Lapis and perhaps pretending false ignorance, ignoring + burying their head in the sand gave them a handy permission slip I suppose.

Maybe I’m wrong about this. And I’m not trying to tell you what the solution here is! I’m no expert in this area and certainly not qualified to come up with a solution. And I’m not doing this to purposely ruffle feathers either.

I just want:

  1. you to be informed
  2. tell you what I’m doing
  3. and then you can discern for yourself what the right thing FOR YOU to do is.

Hopefully, this time, with your help, this blog post and info will get more eyes and attention on it than the last two have. I just want us all to have the knowledge first and then you can make an informed decision.

My mission is to create a knowledgeable Crystal Family so that we can make wise + knowledgeable decisions when adding specimens to our sacred collection.

Afghanistan's Lapis Lazuli Mines

Lapis scarab. Walters Art Museum [Public domain]

I don’t agree that simply ignoring it will solve a damn thing.

Not sorry.

Why else should we care and be aware?

This is a perfect example of how illegal trade in a mineral that was left ignored + unchecked (for at least five years that I know of) can eventually lead to profiteering, exploitation and also open the door for groups like the Taliban to thrive and take over.

Common Afghan Minerals

Lapis isn’t the only mineral to watch out for!

Other popular Afghan minerals include:

  • fluorite
  • various corundums: rubies, sapphires
  • various quartz
  • various tourmaline
  • emerald
  • garnet
  • various beryls: aquamarine, emeralds
  • kunzite
  • topaz

What I’m Doing

I’m still sticking to my old game-plan:

When I first learned of the issue, I decided years ago not to purchase ANY Lapis Lazuli until I hear that things have been restored to normal there. Sadly, it’s clear that things have gotten worse.

When I addressed this back in 2016, I also decided to alter our required school supplies for my Certified Crystal Practitioner Course to make sure not to include any lapis at all.

Afghanistan's Lapis Lazuli Mines

Used with permission. (photo credit: fr:User:Luna04 )

So, I’m still not purchasing any new lapis (even if it’s been around in someone’s shop for years) — because that will create a void, a demand in the supply chain; a need for the shop owner to get more for someone else. (Unless that shop owner chooses to not carry Lapis).

No, I’m not dumping or getting rid of the lapis I had acquired before this all came to light. What good would that do? Just as I’ve acknowledged that my diamond wedding ring is most likely a Blood Diamond. We now know better, we do better. That’s the way I see it anyway.

Please, don’t take that as a suggestion. I’m not preaching what anyone else should do. As I’ve said before, I don’t know what the right solution is! This is just what I’ve decided to do and all I want is the word to get out about this and for it to NOT be ignored. Perhaps you can post a good solution or idea in the comments below? But let’s please keep the dialogue OPEN on this and not shut it down.

If you’d like to help; sharing this post in as many places as you can think of would be really supportive and useful!

GOOD NEWS: You Have Lapis Options!!!

Check out my tips here on that.

not Afghanistan's Lapis Lazuli

This Lapis is from Chile, show more grey (calcite) and no pyrite… but it’s still the real deal.

These tips (link above) haven’t changed since 2016. 🙂

Fake Lapis is an Issue Too!

Ugh. The fakes. Another thing to watch out for.

Yes, due to the high prices of lapis it’s a commonly faked mineral.

If you’d like my help in steering clear of them you can download my FREE 9 Tips for Spotting Fake Lapis Lazuli pdf!  This will also subscribe you to my bi-weekly newsletter.

A Request 🙏

If this is resonating with you… if you agree with some or all my points here then —

**Please SHARE this info with other crystal lovers so that we all stay in the know and well-informed.

And whatever your thoughts, please do share your comment below. I don’t mind a respectful debate at all. We can disagree and still be friends. ♥ 🙂 But please do remember to mind my rules from above. Thank you!

Crystal Blessings,

Hibiscus Moon signature