Friday, December 31, 2010
Afghanistan’s Rare Metals
When Obama announced to go back Afghanistan to fight against terrorists, many believe that Obama’s strategy will fail badly. Yet, when Pentagon announced that Afghanistan might become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” one of many rare metals in the world (New York Times, 13 June 2010), Obama’s Afghanistan’s strategy might be successful in the near future. In the 21stcentury, rare metals have been indispensable for cell phones, laptops, space shuttles, satellites, electric cars, and other high technologic articles. For instance, Bolivia posseses the largest lithium deposits in the world, and China has huge amount of many kinds of rare metals, iron, gold, lithium, niobium, and cobalt. During the former Soviet Union’s occupation of Afghanistan in the end of 1970s, Soviet mining experts started to map and college charts. After the Soviet withdrawal, Afghan geologists took the charts home to protect them during the chaos era. In 2001, Afghan geologists produced these maps and charts again after the fall of the Taliban. In 2007, the US Geological Survey studied and confirmed these facts again. The approximately $1 trillion in mineral resources might eventually help the economic development of Afghanistan, one of the poorest nations in the world. Afghanistan’s Minister of Mines, Wahidullah Shahrani, reported the estimates mineral wealth at $3 trillion or more (Japan Times19 June 2010). Unfortunately, the rare metals are located in Ghazni Province where Tablian has had a strong foothold.