Times News World, August 11, 2010

Afghanistan Has A £17-Billion Gold Mine, 20+ Other Minerals

Another bountifully distributed metal is niobium, which is a raw material in manufacturing superconducting steel. The copious accumulation is valued at £55 billion.

By Adrian Bajador

Where Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden might have hid lie a trillion-dollar treasure chest of gold, copper, cobalt and more than twenty other precious minerals. US experts expressed that this startling discovery could dramatically turn the financial tables of the American-created, nine-year-old battlefield.

Metal ores surround the cities of Herat, Kandahar, Mazar-i-Sharif, and even capital Kabul. Deposits are generously sprinkled in the nation’s periphery near Pakistan, which is also the arena of the most fatal encounters between Afghan and American forces.

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.
The New York Times, Jun. 13, 2010

One metal vital to today’s IT industry could be instrumental to Afghanistan’s economic makeover. Lithium, the lightest of the heavy metals, is used in laptops, 3G phones, and even electric cars in the form of lithium-ion batteries. They are more efficient in generating electricity than lead/acid, zinc-carbon and other types of batteries, and are even recyclable.

Another bountifully distributed metal is niobium, which is a raw material in manufacturing superconducting steel. The copious accumulation is valued at £55 billion.

As Middle East countries bathe in their ‘black gold”, the yet-unvalued and highly-abundant element is touted to reposition the nation as the “Saudi Arabia of lithium”, according to an internal Pentagon memo.

However, the said US agency only proved the existence of such treasures. A three-dimensional profiling has already been drafted three years ago by an old British bomber – which was left in their files, until the US Department of Defense reviewed it.

Other past-one-billion prized “possessions” and their respective values, in British pound sterling, include iron (285.4), copper (185), cobalt (34), molybdenum (16.2), asbestos (4.2), silver (3.6), potash (3.4), aluminum (3) and other rare earth elements (5.0).

Questions arose as to why the supposedly confidential scoop broke out led some parties to believe that this is to cover up the US’ limited success in its battles against the Taliban, while at the same time, relations with Afghan President Hamid Karzai are getting colder.

Additionally, the controversial finding casts shadows on the true intention of the US-sponsored bombfest.

Meanwhile, although Jalil Jumriany, adviser to the national minister of mines, believes that the treasure chest will become the Afghan economy’s backbone, peace and security will remain to be compromised. The government might clash with the tribal and provincial officials, while claimants China, Russia and the US must sort among themselves ownership of such wealth.

Nonetheless, before counting the earnings, strategic plans to unearth this fortune must be laid out. The country is not backed with a developed mining industry, which could take several years to fully realize the benefits. It only has some small, artisanal ones, which are not sufficient with the astonishing potential, according to Jack Medlin, participant in the United States Geological Survey’s international affairs program.

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