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Afghanistan’s vast mineral assets still untapped…

May 29, 2019

Summary: Afghanistan’s underground wealth is failing to be exploited for the benefit of Afghans.

Afghanistan still cannot sustain itself economically and remains dependent on extensive international support.   A piece out from Al Jazeera, is highlighting one of the key economic problems in Afghanistan.  Billions of dollars worth of minerals and other natural resources are trapped underground – marble, copper,gold, uranium, lithium.  This is not being released into the Afghan economy because of the conflict, as well as corruption and government mis-management.  Infrastructure is poor and investment limited.  Some estimates suggest that $1 Trillion worth of assets are yet to be exploited.

This story broke some ten years ago, when it was pitched by many as the magic solution to Afghanistan’s problems.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan may be worth more than $1 trillion, a finding that could reshape the country’s economy and help U.S. efforts to bolster the war-battered government, Pentagon officials said on Monday…

Afghanistan has significant deposits of copper, iron ore, niobium, cobalt, gold, molybdenum, silver and aluminum as well as sources of fluorspar, beryllium and lithium, among others, a task force studying the country’s resources found.

“It’s certainly potentially good news, especially for Afghanistan,” said Pentagon spokesman Colonel David Lapan. “If we can assist the Afghans in developing these resources, it certainly has the potential for adding a lot to their economy.”

Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Paul Brinkley, who headed the task force, said the findings showed Afghanistan a path “toward its own economically sovereign capability to finance its own human and security needs.”

Experts cautioned the challenge to exploiting Afghanistan’s mineral wealth was huge and could take decades to overcome. The country has little mining infrastructure, is in the midst of a wrenching war and has a reputation for government corruption.

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