June 13, 2010
The New York Times

U.S. Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan

by James Risen

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. . . .

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.

. . . American officials fear resource-hungry China will try to dominate the development of Afghanistan's mineral wealth, which could upset the United States, given its heavy investment in the region. After winning the bid for its Aynak copper mine in Logar Province, China clearly wants more, American officials said. . . .


Eric Margolis, "The Great Race For Africa Resumes," Toronto Sun, March 9, 1997

Enver Masud, "A Clash Between Justice and Greed, Not Islam and the West," The Wisdom Fund, September 2, 2002

Lutz Kleveman, "The New Great Game," Guardian, October 20, 2003

John Gray, "Control Oil and Water, Control the World," Observer, March 30, 2008

[A USAID-USGS PASA agreement was signed on September 3, 2004. This PASA initiates the first 6 months of a proposed USGS 5-year program in natural resources/hazards assessment for Afghanistan and is part of the Afghanistan Reconstruction Program.--"USGS Projects in Afghanistan,", September 3, 2004]

Peter Erlinder, "The New Scramble for Africa: Darfur Deception,", September 9, 2008

[Karzai might seek Chinese investment in Afghanistan's vast reserves of minerals--M K Bhadrakumar, "Karzai's China-Iran dalliance riles Obama," Asia Times, March 30, 2010]

[The $1 trillion figure is, therefore, highly misleading. It is a theoretical number and may have little relation to the value of resources that could actually be exploited.--David Robertson, "Timing of Afghan Mineral Story Wealth Evokes Skepticism," Times Online, June 14, 2010]

[The timing of the publication of a major New York Times story on the vast untapped mineral wealth that lies beneath Afghanistan's soil is raising major questions about the intent of the Pentagon, . . . some analysts believe the front-page article is designed to reverse growing public sentiment that the war is not worth the cost. . . .

As noted by Blake Hounshell, managing editor at Foreign Policy magazine, the U.S. Geological Service (USGS) already published a comprehensive inventory of Afghanistan's non-oil mineral resources on the Internet in 2007, as did the British Geological Survey. Much of their work was based on explorations and surveys undertaken by the Soviet Union during its occupation of Afghanistan during the 1980s.--Jim Lobe, "Pentagon strikes it rich,", June 16, 2010]

"Japan Has 'Priority' On Rights To Mine Afghanistan Mineral Deposits, Says Hamid Karzai,", June 20, 2010

James Bandler, "J.P. Morgan's hunt for Afghan gold,", May 11, 2011

Graham Bowley, "Potential for a Mining Boom Splits Factions in Afghanistan,", September 8, 2012

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