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Afghanistan's trillion dollar mineral resources?



“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 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.

While it could take many years to develop a mining industry, the potential is so great that officials and executives in the industry believe it could attract heavy investment even before mines are profitable, providing the possibility of jobs that could distract from generations of war."

by teru kuwayama at 2010-06-15 12:24:22 UTC | Bookmark | | Report spam→


“…It would cost $5 billion or more to develop a large copper, iron ore or gold mine in Afghanistan and potentially a further $5 billion to build the necessary infrastructure (roads, railways, etc).

No company will risk that sort of money in a country where the Government does not control all the territory and contract law is far from solid.

The only people to have shown an interest in Afghanistan’s mines so far are the Chinese because, unlike a private company, they can tie agreements to foreign aid, loans and arms deals — things that Kabul will not want to renege on.

It is possible that China’s grab for Afghan resources has prompted the Pentagon’s attempt to generate some interest from the rest of the world in the country’s resources.

The Americans might not like the idea of someone else benefiting from its military commitment to Afghanistan but Chinese mines might still be preferable to poppy fields."

by teru kuwayama | 15 Jun 2010 12:06 | Palo Alto, United States | | Report spam→


“…Read a little more carefully, though, and you realize that there’s less to this scoop than meets the eye. For one thing, the findings on which the story was based are online and have been since 2007, courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey. More information is available on the Afghan mining ministry’s website, including a report by the British Geological Survey (and there’s more here). You can also take a look at the USGS’s documentation of the airborne part of the survey here, including the full set of aerial photographs.

Nowhere have I found that $1 trillion figure mentioned, which Risen suggests was generated by a Pentagon task force seeking to help the Afghan government develop its resources (looking at the chart accompanying the article, though, it appears to be a straightforward tabulation of the total reserve figures for each mineral times current the current market price). According to Risen, that task force has begun prepping the mining ministry to start soliciting bids for mineral rights in the fall.

Don’t get me wrong. This could be a great thing for Afghanistan, which certainly deserves a lucky break after the hell it’s been through over the last three decades.

But I’m (a) skeptical of that $1 trillion figure; (b) skeptical of the timing of this story, given the bad news cycle, and © skeptical that Afghanistan can really figure out a way to develop these resources in a useful way. It’s also worth noting, as Risen does, that it will take years to get any of this stuff out of the ground, not to mention enormous capital investment. "

by teru kuwayama | 15 Jun 2010 12:06 | Palo Alto, United States | | Report spam→


It seems the Times’ reporter, James Risen, a Pulitzer Prize-winner, did what a lot of great reporters do: He picked up on a story that had been floating around for weeks, months, years, or maybe even back to the Soviet era, depending on which geological surveys you choose to reference, and he made it relevant in the current context.

A question that many media watchers, military analysts and pundits are now wondering is whether The New York Times gave that story shape or whether it was somehow played by the U.S. military to see the value of the mineral deposits at a moment in time when Washington appears to be increasingly concerned about the public losing confidence in the war in Afghanistan.
Was it part of a concerted media campaign to make certain Pentagon memos available and have CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus weigh in with quotes for the New York Times? Risen has been defending his story, and not always in the most attractive manner.

In an interview with Yahoo’s Newsroom blog, Risen got a bit testy, saying, “Bloggers should do their own reporting instead of sitting around in their pajamas.”

by balazs gardi | 18 Jun 2010 06:06 | Male, Maldives | | Report spam→

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teru kuwayama, I/O teru kuwayama
New York , United States
balazs gardi, balazs gardi
Dubai , United Arab Emirates


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