U.S. Discovers US$1 Trillion Afghan Mineral Deposits
Reuters/NYT · June 14, 2010
An internal Pentagon memo said Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” the New York Times said. Lithium is a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and other electronics such as mobile telephones.|
Afghanistan does not have any mining industry or infrastructure, so it will take decades for the country to exploit its mineral wealth fully, the paper quoted U.S. officials as saying.
The report about the country’s untapped wealth is likely to intensify competition among regional players such as China, India and even Russia for a greater role in exploiting those resources.
Two Chinese firms have committed themselves to a US$4 billion investment in the vast Aynak copper mine, south of Kabul, the biggest non-military foreign investment so far in the country.
Another big contract to mine an estimated 1.8 billion tonnes of high-quality iron ore in the remote mountainous region of Hajigak is expected to open for international bidding this year.
Firms from India and China are eyeing the contract, which the Afghan mines ministry says is the largest unmined iron deposit in Asia.
According to the U.S. study, the biggest deposits discovered so far are of iron and copper and the quantities are large enough to make Afghanistan a major world producer.
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.
©2010 Thomson Reuters