US report says Afghanistan has significant mineral wealth

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A report released by the United States noted that Afghanistan has nearly a trillion dollars worth of mineral reserves.

Afghanistan has significant iron reserves.

The report, authored by the US military, the US Geological Service, and the US Agency for International Development, stated that the total wealth in mineral reserves is upwards of US$900 billion, although Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said the value of mineral reserves in the country could be as much as US$3 trillion.

Resources claimed by the report include:

  • 421 billion dollars worth of iron;
  • 274 billion dollars worth of copper;
  • 81 billion dollars worth of niobium;
  • 51 billion dollars worth of cobalt;
  • 25 billion dollars worth of gold;
  • Undetermined amounts of lithium

According to Jawad Omar, the spokesperson of Ministry of Mines, the potential income from mining the reserves would be enough for the country to become self-sustaining, without the need for international financial aid.

US military official General David Petraeus said that there was "stunning potential" for Afghanistan, going on to say that "[t]here are a lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant."

Waheed Omar, a spokesperson for Karzai stated that "it's very, very big news for the people of Afghanistan and that we hope will bring the Afghan people together for a cause that will benefit everyone."

Analysts were less optimistic about the potential for a mining industry. Janan Mosazai, one such analyst, said that "I highly doubt it will be able to either properly manage these resources or use the riches to build a more peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan for all Afghans." Mosazai cited Nigeria as an example of a country that has seen increased violence as a result of abundant natural resources; in that case, oil.