U.S. Finds $1 Trillion Worth of Untapped Mineral Deposits in Afghanistan

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You wouldn't know it from this picture, but this Afghan province is home to tons of lucrative minerals! Photo: Tyler Hicks/New York Times

In a discovery that promises to radically alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the entire war effort, the United States has found close to $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan. This amount is wildly larger than what government officials had anticipated, and U.S. officials believe that these previously unknown deposits could turn Afghanistan into “one of the most important mining centers in the world,” U.S. officials said.

A Pentagon memo said the discovered deposits, which include vast quantities of iron, copper, cobalt, gold, and metals such as lithium, could turn the country into the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a material used to manufacture laptops and BlackBerrys.

“There is stunning potential here,” Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of U.S. Central Command, said. “There are a lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant.”


Top Afghan leaders were recently briefed on the finding, and Jalil Jumriany, an adviser to the Afghan minister of mines, referred to this news as nothing short of game-changing for the country, which has a current GDP of only about $12 billion: “This will become the backbone of the Afghan economy," he said.

U.S. Discovers Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan [NYT]