US report says Afghanistan has significant mineral wealth

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 PPw|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.