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US Finds Vast Afghan Minerals Deposits

From an irked New York Times:

U.S. Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan

By JAMES RISEN

June 13, 2010

WASHINGTON — The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself, according to senior American government officials.

The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that 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 BlackBerrys.

And electric car batteries.

Needless to say every other country on the planet will benefit from this reported find before the US does. (Just like Iraq and its oil.)

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.

Well, telling Mr. Karzai was probably a mistake.

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.

The Times means ‘jihad’ rather than 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.”

The value of the newly discovered mineral deposits dwarfs the size of Afghanistan’s existing war-bedraggled economy, which is based largely on opium production and narcotics trafficking as well as aid from the United States and other industrialized countries. Afghanistan’s gross domestic product is only about $12 billion.

“This will become the backbone of the Afghan economy,” said Jalil Jumriany, an adviser to the Afghan minister of mines…

Will the environmentalists allow mining? What about the ACLU?

[T]he Obama administration is hungry for some positive news to come out of Afghanistan. Yet the American officials also recognize that the mineral discoveries will almost certainly have a double-edged impact.

Instead of bringing peace, the newfound mineral wealth could lead the Taliban to battle even more fiercely to regain control of the country.

The corruption that is already rampant in the Karzai government could also be amplified by the new wealth, particularly if a handful of well-connected oligarchs, some with personal ties to the president, gain control of the resources. Just last year, Afghanistan’s minister of mines was accused by American officials of accepting a $30 million bribe to award China the rights to develop its copper mine. The minister has since been replaced…

American officials fear resource-hungry China will try to dominate the development of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth, which could upset the United States, given its heavy investment in the region. After winning the bid for its Aynak copper mine in Logar Province, China clearly wants more, American officials said.

Naturally China will still end up with all the mineral rights, after the Americans do all the work (and fighting).

Another complication is that because Afghanistan has never had much heavy industry before, it has little or no history of environmental protection either. “The big question is, can this be developed in a responsible way, in a way that is environmentally and socially responsible?” Mr. Brinkley said. “No one knows how this will work.” …

It really is to laugh.

In 2004, American geologists, sent to Afghanistan as part of a broader reconstruction effort, stumbled across an intriguing series of old charts and data at the library of the Afghan Geological Survey in Kabul that hinted at major mineral deposits in the country. They soon learned that the data had been collected by Soviet mining experts during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, but cast aside when the Soviets withdrew in 1989…

Which is probably the reason for the Soviet invasion in the first place. That, and the idea that Afghanistan was to provide the Soviets with a land bridge to Iran and Iraq and the rest of the Middle East oil.

Armed with the old Russian charts, the United States Geological Survey began a series of aerial surveys of Afghanistan’s mineral resources in 2006, using advanced gravity and magnetic measuring equipment attached to an old Navy Orion P-3 aircraft that flew over about 70 percent of the country.

The data from those flights was so promising that in 2007, the geologists returned for an even more sophisticated study, using an old British bomber equipped with instruments that offered a three-dimensional profile of mineral deposits below the earth’s surface. It was the most comprehensive geologic survey of Afghanistan ever conducted.

The handful of American geologists who pored over the new data said the results were astonishing…

So far, the biggest mineral deposits discovered are of iron and copper, and the quantities are large enough to make Afghanistan a major world producer of both, United States officials said. Other finds include large deposits of niobium, a soft metal used in producing superconducting steel, rare earth elements and large gold deposits in Pashtun areas of southern Afghanistan…

Of course this will probably motivate Mr. Obama and the Democrats to abandon Afghanistan all the sooner.

Whereas if the survey had uncovered potential illegal alien voters, it would be an entirely different story.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, June 14th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

7 Responses to “US Finds Vast Afghan Minerals Deposits”

  1. Liberals Make Great Speedbumps says:

    NO WAR FOR LITHIUM!

  2. Georgfelis says:

    Afghanistan has minerals worth a trillion dollars? Heck, Obama can spend that much in a month….

  3. Chinnubie says:

    “Who told those geologists to start medaling around out there in the desert, for God’s-sake I’ve got enough crap to deal with already” Obama comment to Michelle over breakfast.

    Safe to say these kinds of road-blocks get in the way of the total destruction of our socio-economic society/culture.

    Obama certainly won’t allow any American companies to profit from this discovery so, China will become even more enriched while we give up without a fight.

  4. heykev says:

    “Afghanistan’s minister of mines was accused by American officials of accepting a $30 million bribe to award China the rights to develop its copper mine. The minister has since been replaced.”

    A $30 MILLION bribe? Even here in Illinois that’s more than you’d need to buy yourself a Senator, Governor and the whole Illinois Senate (OK, they would only need to buy off the one guy who who run’s it…but still), maybe a judge or two and still have enough left over to provide me with a comfortable retirement plan.

    So just wondering why pay one guy in Afghanistan $30 million dollar bribe for the mining rights? Would think he could be had for far, far less money.

  5. proreason says:

    This will cost thousands of lives of American heroes.

  6. Exador says:

    With all that wealth of natural resources, they’re SURE to become a modern, industrialized economy.
    Just look at the countries of Africa.

    • beautyofreason says:

      Yes. Just look at blood diamonds. Blood Lithium?

      In 50 years Afghanistan may become a new Saudi Arabia – transforming a million tribal Islamists into rich people known for sentencing rape victims to lashings.


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