Thursday, June 17, 2010

Afghanistan: "the Saudi Arabia of lithium"

I am loathe to succumb to conspiratorial speculation about the war in Afghanistan. In fact, I have always maintained - wholly in the absence of any evidence whatsoever - that the motivations for the war in Afghanistan were revenge for 9/11 and destruction of al Qaida and its enablers.

Then this little doosie appears in the NYT yesterday:

New York Times, 13 June 2010

U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON — 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.
“On the ground, it’s very, very, promising,” Mr. Medlin said. “Actually, it’s pretty amazing.”

As if the US occupation wants to fuel conspiratorial fulmination about their reason for being in Afghanistan, the Pentagon fielded some geologists and other experts to see what the mining potential of Afghanistan is; and guess what?

One of of the geologists remarks that, “On the ground, it’s very, very, promising”.

Perhaps the mining division of the Pentagon could counsel the counterinsurgency part on positive thinking in times of crisis.

Luckily, the World Bank had already 'assisted' (not completely written based on precedents from the many developing countries in which the Bank has positively tranformed mining regulatory frameworks, optimistic places like Congo) the Karzai government to rewrite their mining laws.

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