U.S. Discovers Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan [What Could Go Wrong?]

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 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.



[Any di-lithium?]

Planning a trip?


WASHINGTON — A team of U.S. geologists and Pentagon officials has discovered vast mineral wealth in Afghanistan, conceivably enough to turn the scarred and impoverished country into one of the world’s most lucrative mining centers, The New York Times reports.
“There is stunning potential here,” Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the United States Central Command, told the paper in a report published Monday. “There are a lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant.”
Americans discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, including iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium, according to the report. The Times quoted a Pentagon memo as saying Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and cell phones.

If mined properly and if the Taliban can be defeated then Afghanistan just might be able to develop a healthy economy

You have no idea how happy the People’s Republic of China is right now.

They’ve got the PRC on one side and Iran on the other side and the Soviet Union on the other side and Pakistan on the other side.

And the Taliban internally just rubbing their hands together.

When you have a chance, read “Flashman”. Visit Amazon and look up the book. Frasier is the author, I think. Cool book.

Interesting story. I’m always skeptical, but I guess that is my job.

How long have geologists been searching the rocky hills of Afghanistan for precious metals? They haven’t once been intercepted by the Taliban? I’m curious what kind of exploration has been going on since 9/11/01, what with all those bullets whizzing by and bombs being dropped. Various militaries have been crushed there, but scientists with core drills and equipment get a free pass?

The Russians were there all that time and totally missed it? Russian scientists are not rubes by any means, there would have been some kind of mineral exploration. Perhaps they knew, thus their Afghan military effort. But the losses outwieghed the gains.

And then there is the decades of infrastructure to build in order to get the stuff out. I’m sure all those many tribes and villages will comply peacefully :slight_smile: as roads and smelting plants are built in their territories. Not to mention the environmental impact. One needs to look up Norilsk Nickel in the USSR to get a grasp of the environmental disaster there.

Illegal War for Minerals? Doesn’t have the iconic “War for Oil” catch-iness. No “empire” in history has been able to tame Afghanistan. It will take much more military effort to tame such a wasteland before trucks and bulldozers can peacefully extract the resources. But many of the minerals mentioned in the articles are used for “green” technolgies, either direct or in other processes. Is the argument of “exploiting the earth for resources” being softened?

Sorry for the buzzkill as they say.

Wait till they get the bill for ousting the Taliban. All these drones and cruise missiles ain’t cheap, fellas.

And here is Ralph Peters on the subject:


I’ve also read that there’s a lot of skepticism out there because the Afghan Ministry of Mines (or something to that effect) is involved and that Ministry is known to be among the most corrupt.

I read Ralph Peters article and agree that this is not necessarily a windfall for that nation.

I used to work with two Russian scientists in the mid 90’s(fascinating story for another time; they were 2 of somethign like 350 Russian scientists/engineers/etc to be granted visas to leave in the late 80’s, but I digress). I remember a conversation about Afghanistan in terms of their war, and that precious minerals were abundant in that region. I don’t think it necessarily a secret that Afghanistan has such deposits, at least in scientific circles. The vast quantities are perhaps not fully understood, but the Russians had reason to believe it was huge.

Some things are just not worth it and I got the sense from these two that despite the enormous deposits it was becoming a worthless effort. They may try again however with different tactics. Perhaps this may be the next act.

The terrain is so hilly, they would have to use giant helicopters to fly the stuff out.

It would be cheaper to extract Helium-3 from the back side of the Moon.

I wonder how they came off with that rather round dollar estimate of the value of the minerals. What about the cost of extracting the minerals? That isn’t mentioned anywhere, and I know from some college classes Ive taken it can be a very expensive process to do, not to mention the current security state of Afghanistan. The value may be that high, but the cost of mining and extraction could exceed the estimated value.

However…and I don’t have the link to it now, but I read on a news article that China wanted to purchase the rights to mine there…

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.