U.S. Discovers Stunning Mineral Reserves in Afghanistan
14 June 2010
A leading U.S. newspaper reports U.S. geologists have discovered nearly one trillion dollars' worth of untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan.
The New York Times says U.S. officials believe the vast veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold, lithium, and niobium could "fundamentally alter" the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war. U.S. officials told the newspaper Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the "most important mining centers in the world."
Lithium is a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for cell phones and laptops. Niobium is a soft metal used in producing superconducting steel.
U.S. General David Petraeus, commander of the U.S. Central Command, told The Times "there is stunning potential here." Jalil Jumriany, an adviser to the Afghan minster of Mines, said the minerals will become "the backbone of the Afghan economy."
The newspaper says Afghanistan's mineral wealth was discovered by a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists, using charts and data collected by Soviet mining experts during the Soviet Union's occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s.
The New York Times says Afghan geologists took the charts home to protect them during the chaos that followed the Soviet withdrawal, and produced them again in 2001 with the fall of the Taliban.
The newspaper reports President Hamid Karzai was recently briefed on the finding.