A team of US geologists and Pentagon officials has reportedly discovered vast mineral reserves in Afghanistan.
This picture shows a Chinese delegation visiting the vast Aynak copper mine
Afghanistan has nearly one trillion dollars (820 billion euros) of untapped mineral deposits, according to a new US study. A report, published in the New York Times, said a team of US geologists and pentagon officials has discovered vast deposits of iron, gold, niobium and cobalt as well reserves of copper and metals such as lithium, which are used in making rechargeable batteries for mobile phones, cameras, laptops, etc.
It is a discovery that can revive the Afghan economy and turn the impoverished country into one of the world's most lucrative mining centers, the paper reported.
Lithium is used in rechargeable batteries of electronic products such as laptop
Afghanistan has so much of the metal that it could become the "Saudi Arabia of lithium", according to an internal Pentagon memo quoted by the paper.
Investment and job opportunities
Experts believe that the latest find could attract heavy investment, increase job opportunities and thereby help distract the youth from joining the Taliban.
"There is stunning potential here," Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the United States Central Command, told the paper on Monday.
Also, the Afghan government is aware of the promising discovery. The paper said that President Hamid Karzai was briefed about it recently.
Gen. David Petraeus is upbeat about the new find
Speaking to AFP news agency, Jawad Omar, spokesman for the country's ministry of mines and industries, said, "the natural resources of Afghanistan will play a magnificent role in Afghanistan's economic growth."
The US Geological Survey reportedly began aerial surveys of Afghanistan's mineral resources in 2006, using data that had been collected by Soviet mining experts in the 1980s.
Not much has been exploited of these vast reserves because of the country's nearly three decades of conflicts and the ongoing insurgency by the Taliban.
Editor: Thomas Baerthlein