Monday, June 14, 2010

How America Stumbled Upon Afghanistan's Mineral Treasure Trove

The US has revealed that Afghanistan is sitting on at least a trillion dollars worth of precious minerals from copper to gold to lithium.

How did America make this amazing discovery? Turns out they stumbled upon it in overlooked data from Russian geologists during the Soviet occupation in the 1980's. From the Sydney Morning Herald:

...In 2004 American geologists, sent to Afghanistan as part of a broader reconstruction effort, stumbled across an intriguing series of old charts and data at the library of the Afghan Geological Survey in Kabul that hinted at major mineral deposits in the country. They soon learnt that the data had been collected by Soviet mining experts during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, but cast aside when the Soviets withdrew in 1989.

During the chaos of the 1990s, when Afghanistan was mired in civil war and later ruled by the Taliban, a small group of Afghan geologists protected the charts by taking them home, and returned them to the Geological Survey's library only after the American invasion and the ouster of the Taliban in 2001.

''There were maps, but the development did not take place, because you had 30 to 35 years of war,'' said Ahmad Hujabre, an Afghan engineer who worked for the Ministry of Mines in the 1970s.

I wonder if Cheney had plans to get this wealth into American hands? We'll probably never know.


Fillibluster said...

American hands? More like Halliburton's and his own.

I have long contended that the entire purpose of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan was the transfer of wealth from public to private hands.

The Mound of Sound said...

I expect you're right, Fill. It seems America has a long agenda in Afghanistan - including the cherished pipeline route for Caspian Basin oil and gas. With both the Russians and Chinese breathing down America's neck in south Asia, it's hard to imaging the US simply pulling up stakes and leaving. You can't dominate the region from Washington.