Mineral resources seen as a boost to Afghan economy


WASHINGTON (PAN): The vast mineral resources of Afghanistan, now mapped by the US Geological Survey, could transform the country's war-tattered economy, an American official said on Thursday.

"The mineral resources in Afghanistan have the potential to completely transform the nation's economy," said Regina Dubey, acting director of the Department of Defense’ Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO).

Speaking at an event at the Afghan Embassy in Washington Dubey said important new work would be a powerful tool for those attempting to accurately evaluate potential investments in Afghanistan.

He was referring to findings from a study on nonfuel minerals in Afghanistan, conducted by the United States Geological Survey (USGS), TFBSO, Afghanistan’s Ministry of Mines and Afghanistan’s Geological Survey.

"The new information released in the United States Geological Survey’s recent study on non-fuel minerals will stimulate foreign investment in Afghanistan’s extractive industries," said Afghan Ambassador Eklil Ahmad Hakimi.

He believed that the key to peace in Afghanistan lay in its mineral resources, because lasting security and stability was dependent on the amount of economic opportunity available to Afghans.

"For a peaceful future, Afghanistan needs to develop a sustainable economy; one that can provide jobs for the people, but is not dependent on international assistance and our extractive industries will have a crucial contribution to this end," Hakimi said.

Mining projects are a key component of the New Silk Road Initiative, a long-term vision to boost prosperity and peace by fostering closer economic ties between Afghanistan and neighboring countries, he added. 

"We envision a future in which the cross-roads of trade between Asia and the West meet once again in Afghanistan.  Developing our mining sector will generate new trading and investment opportunities for our entire region," Hakimi continued.

US Assistant Secretary for Water and Science at the Department of Interior, Ann Castle, said mineral wealth was a key component of economic growth of Afghanistan.

"There is always increased risk for commercial ventures investing in new mining facilities in frontier areas such as Afghanistan, but by putting our information on the locations and estimated quantities and grades of ores in the public domain, we lower that risk, spurring progress," said USGS Director Marcia McNutt.

In total, the USGS studied 24 formations, the most prominent being the giant copper and cobalt deposits near Kabul, the iron-rich areas in central Afghanistan, the copper and gold resources in the southeast Afghanistan, and rare-earth element deposits in Helmand.



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