US Discovers $1 Trillion in Minerals in Afghanistan

Sunday, 13 Jun 2010 09:59 PM

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WASHINGTON — The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, according to The New York Times, a discovery that could transform the country overnight into a natural resource power on the scale of Saudi Arabia.

The reserves – huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium – are far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself, senior American government officials told the Times.

Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.

An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and Blackberries.

The vast scale of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth was discovered by a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists. The Afghan government and President Hamid Karzai were recently briefed, American officials said.

While it could take many years to develop a mining industry, the potential is so great that officials and executives in the industry believe it could attract heavy investment even before mines are profitable, providing the possibility of jobs that could distract from generations of war.

“There is stunning potential here,” Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the United States Central Command, said in an interview on Saturday. “There are a lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant.”

Read the entire story in The New York Times

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