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China plans to destroy an ancient Buddhist city to get the copper buried there

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Two Chinese state-owned mining companies plan to destroy an ancient Buddhist city in Afghanistan in order to get the copper underneath it, according to a new documentary

According to the film "Saving Mes Aynak," Metallurgical Group Corp. (MCC) and Jiangxi Copper are in the initial stages of building an open-pit copper mine 25 miles southeast of Kabul. The location is home to a walled Buddhist city that dates back 5,000 years.

According to the Afghan Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, the site is also home to the world's second-largest copper deposit. China is an importer of copper and a major global refiner of the industrial metal.

In 2007, under the administration of President Hamid Karzai, MCC agreed to pay Afghanistan $3 billion to lease the Mes Aynak area for 30 years.

MCC plans to extract over $100 billion worth of copper deposited directly beneath the Buddhist city, according to the documentary. Archaeologists are trying to save the site.

A spokesman for Afghanistan's Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, Zabih Sarwari, told CNBC that the project is slated to start after the completion of a feasibility study.

"I feel pity if they allow it," said Javed Noorani, formerly of the nonprofit Integrity Watch Afghanistan. "The World Bank, in collaboration with the Afghan government, tried to remove the heritage [site] to safety, but this act in itself is a breach of international standards and laws on archaeology."

About 2,300 items have been removed from the site to National Museum of Afghanistan, said Ministry of Mines spokesman Sarwari.

The residents of at least a dozen villages were permanently cleared out to make way for the mining work, according to the documentary, most of which was filmed in 2013.