Afghan Mineral Deposits Worth at Least $1 Trillion, U.S. Says

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May 11, 2002
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By Tony Capaccio

June 14 (Bloomberg) -- Afghanistan’s untapped mineral deposits are worth $1 trillion, according to Pentagon officials.

That estimate, made in December, “is probably conservative” because the U.S. Geological Survey says as much as two-thirds of Afghanistan’s natural resources are yet to be identified, spokesman Marine Corps Major Shawn Turner said.

The December estimate, by a team of Pentagon and State Department officials charged with jump-starting the Central Asian nation’s economy, was based on proven reserves and “someone saying ‘let’s take a look’” at their value, he said.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said mineral resources will be essential to stabilizing the country, which has the world’s second-poorest living standards, according to the United Nations. Thirty-two years of war and weak institutions have hampered the development of its two richest known deposits: Hajigak’s 1.8 billion-ton iron-ore field west of the capital Kabul and Aynak’s copper ore south of Kabul.

China’s state-owned Metallurgical Corp. of China Ltd. won a license in 2007 to develop the Aynak field, where mining had been blocked by war in the 1980s. The deposit holds 11 million tons of copper metal, according to a 2008 statement from Jiangxi Copper Co., a partner in the project.

The basic information on Afghanistan’s mineral deposits has been available for several years, but “no one stopped and said ‘what’s it worth’” until late last year, Turner said in an interview. The $1 trillion estimate is “quite significant with regard to what it says about Afghanistan’s economic potential.”

Survey in 2006

The Geological Survey explored Afghanistan in 2006, flying over part of the country with cameras, ground-penetrating radar and instruments that measure variations in gravity and magnetic fields, according to the USGS website. U.S. military flight restrictions blocked the agency from surveying the entire nation, the Geological Survey account shows.

According to the Pentagon analysis of the Afghanistan’s known resources, iron deposits topped the list at $420 billion and copper was second at $273 billion.

Other finds include large deposits of niobium, a soft metal used in producing superconducting steel, and large gold deposits in areas of southern Afghanistan, the New York Times reported today.

Pentagon spokesman Marine Corps Colonel David Lapan told reporters today that a team headed by deputy undersecretary of defense Paul Brinkley has been talking with private mining companies to gauge their interest in working with the Afghan government. The U.S. has made similar efforts to help Iraq develop its natural resources and trade.

Afghan Mines Ministry spokesman Jawad Omar declined to comment on the New York Times report.

“We have not received this report from the USGS,” Omar said in a telephone interview in Kabul. Mines Minister Wahidullah Shahrani will discuss the survey at a press briefing June 17 after returning from a trip to India, Omar said.

--With assistance from Eltaf Najafizada in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Tan Hwee Ann in Hong Kong. Editors: Bill Schmick, Don Frederick

To contact the reporter responsible for this story: Tony Capaccio in Washington at [email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at [email protected]

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-06-14/afghan-mineral-deposits-worth-at-least-1-trillion-u-s-says.html
 
Jun 19, 2004
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Survey in 2006

The Geological Survey explored Afghanistan in 2006
, flying over part of the country with cameras, ground-penetrating radar and instruments that measure variations in gravity and magnetic fields, according to the USGS website. U.S. military flight restrictions blocked the agency from surveying the entire nation, the Geological Survey account shows.
Isn't it weird we lost 27 soldiers this past week then we get hold of this old ass news ??