September 5th, 2012
01:39 PM GMT
Afghanistan (CNN) - A team of international archaeologists are racing against the clock to salvage relics from an ancient Buddhist monastery at Mes Aynak in Afghanistan before it is destroyed to make way for a giant $100 billion open cast copper mine.
Brent Huffman, documentary film maker and professor at Medill Northwest University, in the United States, has spent months in the midst of a situation which illustrates the conflicting economic and cultural interests at play in Afghanistan today.
“There is $100 billion worth of copper right underneath the site,” says Huffman. “In order for a Chinese company to mine this copper they’ve got to destroy the whole mountain range and all the monasteries. It is a race against time.”
He says archaeologists are scrambling to save everything they can from the site by excavating as much as they can - in what is a job he says should take 35 years - before December this year, when the site will be closed down and the China Metallurgical Group Corporation will begin copper excavation.
Huffman says the archaeologists face immense danger on a day-to-day basis.
“There are a lot of very angry villagers that are attacking the site and that are working in tandem with the Taliban to place landmines on the road at night and shoot rockets at the archaeological site.”
Huffman says if the destructive process at this mine is successful, Chinese and other international companies will replicate it all over Afghanistan.
“It really breaks my heart to think this will all be bulldozed,” he says.
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