Afghanistan's minerals worth $3 trillion


KABUL (PAN): Afghanistan's untapped mineral wealth is worth at least $3 trillion -- a triple of a US estimate released last week, the Ministry of Mines announced on Thursday.

Afghanistan has huge natural energy and mineral resources including iron, copper, coal, gold, oil, gas and lithium which have enormous potential for economic development, said the Mines Minister, Wahidullah Shahrani, who is due to visit UK next week to attract foreign investments for a sustainable use of the massive natural resources.

Lithium is a soft, silver-white metal that is widely used as a key component in manufacturing technological instruments such as computers.

Shahrani told reporters the untouched minerals were not limited to a particular region of the country, pointing to oil and gas deposits which are available all over the country.

The survey of the US geological organisation, according to Shahrani, was conducted in cooperation with the Afghan Mines Ministry. He said the exact information about the study has not yet been shared with the Afghan government.

The government will establish an information centre based on the survey's result which could be later used as a place of attraction for international investors.

The Ministry of Mines has prepared rules and regulations to ensure transparent biddings and contracts for mine investments. The Afghan parliament had passed the Law of Mines in 2005 and the mines ministry has recently completed a strategic plan as well, Shahrani said.

He said he would address some 200 foreign investors in London next week to draw their attention towards the Hajigak iron ore deposit, the biggest iron deposit in Asia, in central Bamyan province. The bidding for the untapped Hajigak mine -- an iron deposit of 2bn tons -- would start in September, he further said.

A sustainable use of mineral wealth in impoverished Afghanistan would help tackle poverty and provide jobs for the Afghan people, the minister hoped.

Similar studies of Afghanistan's mines have been conducted over the past century by British, German, Russian and American geologists, who have known for decades that Afghanistan has vast deposits of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and other prized minerals. A US Department of Defense briefing last week put a startling, nearly $1 trillion price tag on the reserves. However, Shahrani said the estimates could be worth at least $3 trillion.


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