Afghanistan awash in $1 trillion of valuable minerals

Rick Moran
This is either good news or bad news depending on your point of view.

It is doubtful that this vast mineral wealth will benefit the Afghan people. With no mining expertise, the government will turn to foreign companies to exploit the finds. Historically, little of that wealth redounds to the benefit of ordinary people.

But there are several strategic minerals vital to American national security that a friendly Afghanistan government could make sure we receive a good share.

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.

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.

Yes, but won't there be jobs for the Afghan people? Mining jobs in the third world are notoriously ill paying, and unsafe. Even a semi-modern state like South Africa pays diamond and gold miners less than a third what they make in industrialized countries. The chances that Afghan miners will be exploited are great.

That said, there's a chance that this find will propel Afghanistan out of the 18th century where most of the country now resides and bring it closer to the modern age. Of course, this scenario is dependent on Afghanistan defeating the Taliban and being able to form a modern government.

Both of those propositions are in doubt.

 

This is either good news or bad news depending on your point of view.

It is doubtful that this vast mineral wealth will benefit the Afghan people. With no mining expertise, the government will turn to foreign companies to exploit the finds. Historically, little of that wealth redounds to the benefit of ordinary people.

But there are several strategic minerals vital to American national security that a friendly Afghanistan government could make sure we receive a good share.

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.

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.

Yes, but won't there be jobs for the Afghan people? Mining jobs in the third world are notoriously ill paying, and unsafe. Even a semi-modern state like South Africa pays diamond and gold miners less than a third what they make in industrialized countries. The chances that Afghan miners will be exploited are great.

That said, there's a chance that this find will propel Afghanistan out of the 18th century where most of the country now resides and bring it closer to the modern age. Of course, this scenario is dependent on Afghanistan defeating the Taliban and being able to form a modern government.

Both of those propositions are in doubt.