Worth of Mineral Reserves in Afghanistan May Top One Trillion Dollars

Via the Voice of America:

A leading U.S. newspaper reports U.S. geologists have discovered nearly one trillion dollars’ worth of untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan.

The New York Times says U.S. officials believe the vast veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold, lithium, and niobium could “fundamentally alter” the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war. U.S. officials told the newspaper Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the “most important mining centers in the world.”

Lithium is a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for cell phones and laptops. Niobium is a soft metal used in producing superconducting steel.

This will be hugely beneficial for someone (someday – when the infrastructure to exploit these resources exists) but I’d bet that Afghanistan is more likely to go the way of Africa where immense resources and poverty tend to run on parallel tracks. One thing is certain though – we aren’t leaving any time soon.

Update:
Similar thoughts at Outside the Beltway:

So, instead of bringing the country together and leading to an era of prosperity unlike anything Afghanistan has ever seen in it’s history, this discovery could serve to tear the country apart even further as factions fight over the wealth buried underneath them. Even if that doesn’t happen, however, the history of natural resources exploitation in the third world does not bode well for the Afghan people.

Melissa Clouthier posts her thoughts over at Right Wing News:

Well, unless America is willing to go colonial and impose civilization on these folks, it will mean more infighting and civil war.

Finally, head over to Naked Capitalism for the most pessimistic take on the whole matter.