Draft policy on mines to be okayed soon


KABUL (PAN): Bids from international investors for the development of a lithium mine in western Herat province would be called after a draft policy on mine exploration and extraction is approved by the Cabinet, an official said on Tuesday.

Prepared two and a half months ago, the draft policy would be sent to the Cabinet in the next few days, Jawad Omar, the mines ministry spokesman, told Pajhwok Afghan News. Both economic and security aspects had been considered in the draft, he said, but stopped short of giving details.

Omar said necessary homework had been done for introducing the lithium mine in Herat to foreign investors. Huge deposits of lithium, uranium, niobium, cobalt, beryllium, molybdenum and other rare metals and minerals exist in Herat, Ghazni, Badakhshan, Helmand, Nimroz, Nuristan and Kunar provinces.

Lithium is a key raw material used in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and cell phones. A team of US geologists and Pentagon discovered vast mineral wealth in Afghanistan, conceivably enough to turn the impoverished country into one of the world's most lucrative mining centres.

Karzai has said his nation's untapped mineral deposits could be even higher -- perhaps as much as $3 trillion. Agreements on exploration of gas and oil and the development of the Ainak copper mines have been signed with Chinese firms. Preliminary development work on the projects is ongoing.


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