A Sourcing Conundrum — "Vast riches" of Minerals in Afghanistan

Talk about self-interest on a global level -- "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," according to this story in the New York Times.

The article further goes on to say that Afghanistan officials had no idea they were sitting on such a (pardon the pun) gold mine, and that they were briefed by "a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists." It also says that Afghanistan has nowhere near the level of infrastructure to handle mining projects of this size and scale, and that "While it could take many years to develop a mining industry, the potential is so great that officials and executives in the industry believe it could attract heavy investment even before mines are profitable, providing the possibility of jobs that could distract from generations of war."

Afghanistan's "war-bedraggled" economy is today based mostly on opium production and narcotics trafficking -- not exactly industries that are conducive to graduating to running huge-scale mineral mining and distribution operations. What does this mean, then? Of course! Americans will come in and take over the whole operation!

"International accounting firms that have expertise in mining contracts have been hired to consult with the Afghan Ministry of Mines, and technical data is being prepared to turn over to multinational mining companies and other potential foreign investors. The Pentagon is helping Afghan officials arrange to start seeking bids on mineral rights by next fall, officials said.

'The Ministry of Mines is not ready to handle this,' Mr. Brinkley said. 'We are trying to help them get ready.'"

Frankly I think that the US (and China, for that matter) are counting their sourcing chickens before eggs have even been laid -- or even before the chicken that will lay these particular eggs has been laid -- and are therefore counting on what may as well be lithium deposits on Pluto (which, who knows, may actually be easier to obtain). See Lisa's opinion on the subject as well over on MetalMiner. Call us cynical, but we have to agree with her statement:

"No, the only thing I'm sure about is that America will help others such as the Chinese exploit Afghanistan's natural resources. The Russians walked from Afghanistan in 1989 and they knew about these deposits back then! What in the world makes us think that this mineral discovery will ever result in a transformation of this inter-tribal warfare plagued nation?"

Let's focus on the other problems we've got going on at the moment for a bit -- isn't there an oil spill to clean up?

Sheena Moore

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