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U.S. Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan

RightinNYC

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U.S. Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan - NYTimes.com

The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself, according to senior American government officials. The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe. An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys.

The vast scale of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth was discovered by a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists. The Afghan government and President Hamid Karzai were recently briefed, American officials said. While it could take many years to develop a mining industry, the potential is so great that officials and executives in the industry believe it could attract heavy investment even before mines are profitable, providing the possibility of jobs that could distract from generations of war. “There is stunning potential here,” Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the United States Central Command, said in an interview on Saturday. “There are a lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant.”

The value of the newly discovered mineral deposits dwarfs the size of Afghanistan’s existing war-bedraggled economy, which is based largely on opium production and narcotics trafficking as well as aid from the United States and other industrialized countries. Afghanistan’s gross domestic product is only about $12 billion. “This will become the backbone of the Afghan economy,” said Jalil Jumriany, an adviser to the Afghan minister of mines.
Wow, that's just...awesome. This could be a path to stability and prosperity for a country that seemed to have no hope of either.
 
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Jetboogieman

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U.S. Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan - NYTimes.com



Wow, that's just...awesome. This could be a path to stability and prosperity for a country that seemed to have no hope of either.
Definitely, it could also create problems too. You'd have to stay to ensure one faction of the Afghan people don't take the recources all for themselves and shut out other ethnicities or anything stupid like that. Then you'd just end up with crap like Sierra Leone.
 

rathi

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Natural resources tend to be of little value to local populace if they are just snatched up by local despots and exported. Instead, they need to form a real economy that uses local resource to manufacture a complete product and sell it. I'd suggest trying to build lithium battery producing factories or something comparable if you want any hope of an actual economy. The war is a serious impediment, but its better than just sending more troops and hoping the situation will get better.
 

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Definitely, it could also create problems too. You'd have to stay to ensure one faction of the Afghan people don't take the recources all for themselves and shut out other ethnicities or anything stupid like that. Then you'd just end up with crap like Sierra Leone.
Jet,

I think such an eventuality would pose little problem to our military.
 

spud_meister

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Bush just went to war in afghanistan for the minerals!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

Civil1z@tion

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Natural resources tend to be of little value to local populace if they are just snatched up by local despots and exported.
Tell that to Australia. Their single most valuable exports are raw minerals and fuels not finished goods and they seem to be making a killing off of it.

That being said developing factories to go ahead and add that extra value before export can't hurt.
 

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Tell that to Australia. Their single most valuable exports are raw minerals and fuels not finished goods and they seem to be making a killing off of it.

That being said developing factories to go ahead and add that extra value before export can't hurt.
Australia is not Afghanistan or (using jetboogieman's example) Sierre Leone. (Mind you - Sierre Leone seems to be on the brink of asking the UK to come in to help advise and bring technological progress to the country.)

When I read this story - I saw the example that is Nigeria or Angola - countries blessed with vast resources but hindered by huge corruption. I hope this doesn't happen - if Al Q'aeda or one of the Taleban groups take power, that's an awful lot of money to spend on training terrorists.
 

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Resource abundance offers no assurance of development and economic prosperity. Yemen and Nigeria are case examples where resource abundance has failed to provide such benefits. Given that Afghanistan has a government of suspect legitimacy, has been and remains widely corrupt, and is very provincial in nature, along with Afghanistan's being a fragmented society where genuine authority is diffuse, resource abundance probably won't lead to great benefits in the near-term or medium-term for Afghanistan, much less political stability.

Political stability will require bringing together the nation's tribal leaders--perhaps even starting over on that front--slowly building from there. It will also require military success against the Taliban, but the current Kabul-centric strategy/seeming lack of contingency planning that are playing out in delayed achievement of outcomes increasingly makes a muddy outcome probably more likely than a clear and sustained success. Developments in post-Musharraf Pakistan add to the challenges affecting Afghanistan. Finally, even if a strong central government emerges in Afghanistan, there is little guarantee that the government would not assume ownership of the resources, leading to the benefits/wealth from such resources flowing to the government and its cronies, while the vast majority of the population benefits little and enjoys little accountability from a government that does not depend on their tax revenue to fund its operations.
 

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The US has vast riches but only 1% of the population gets much from them except to work their asses off for the barons of industry.
I know man, if only we lived in a real resource state like Saudi Arabia or something.
 

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No blood for lithium!

In all seriousness, this is great news. Does it make it a certianty that things turn around in Afghanistan? No. However it increases the likelihood and gives some reason hope for the state in the future at least. Here's hoping it can work out in a positive way.

Oh, and in regards to most of us not seeing the benefit of our rich stores of resources in the US. Look at our quality of life, even for many of the "poor" in this country but especially the middle class, and compare it to many various portions of the world. While you may not see direect profits from it there is a definite tangible benefit we all recieve due to boons the US has in regards to its economic prowess.
 

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Resource abundance offers no assurance of development and economic prosperity. Yemen and Nigeria are case examples where resource abundance has failed to provide such benefits. Given that Afghanistan has a government of suspect legitimacy, has been and remains widely corrupt, and is very provincial in nature, along with Afghanistan's being a fragmented society where genuine authority is diffuse, resource abundance probably won't lead to great benefits in the near-term or medium-term for Afghanistan, much less political stability.
economic development doesn't even assure economic prosperity. It requires a combination of: [1] political stability [2] an internally near-free market [3] some degree of early protectionism [4] a developing entrepreneurial class [5] luck.
It will require political stability before any of the other factors can be assessed. A soldier might be capable of starting a damn good company, but we won't know until there is the incentive (financial included) to turn roles.
Political stability will require bringing together the nation's tribal leaders--perhaps even starting over on that front--slowly building from there. It will also require military success against the Taliban, but the current Kabul-centric strategy/seeming lack of contingency planning that are playing out in delayed achievement of outcomes increasingly makes a muddy outcome probably more likely than a clear and sustained success. Developments in post-Musharraf Pakistan add to the challenges affecting Afghanistan. Finally, even if a strong central government emerges in Afghanistan, there is little guarantee that the government would not assume ownership of the resources, leading to the benefits/wealth from such resources flowing to the government and its cronies, while the vast majority of the population benefits little and enjoys little accountability from a government that does not depend on their tax revenue to fund its operations.
Good point. We must also recognize India's willingness to play a role in Afghanistan's future, as a proxy-act against Pakistan.
 

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The US has vast riches but only 1% of the population gets much from them except to work their asses off for the barons of industry.
....and live in the most posh, advantaged, comfy land in the history of the planet. Do you expect a check from the government for $100,000 every year for just being born here?
 

rathi

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Tell that to Australia. Their single most valuable exports are raw minerals and fuels not finished goods and they seem to be making a killing off of it.
Australia is a stable democracy that was formed by imported British people with strong republican traditions. Afghanistan is currently divided between tribal and religious warlords mostly growing opium and fighting the Americans and each other. Manufacturing turns natural resources into jobs that actually employ the populace and put some money into local economy. Exporting them will likely result in all the money being snarfed up by a warlord without doing anything useful for the populace at large.
 

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Natural resources tend to be of little value to local populace if they are just snatched up by local despots and exported. Instead, they need to form a real economy that uses local resource to manufacture a complete product and sell it. I'd suggest trying to build lithium battery producing factories or something comparable if you want any hope of an actual economy. The war is a serious impediment, but its better than just sending more troops and hoping the situation will get better.
Links? Sources?
 

Taylor

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The US has vast riches but only 1% of the population gets much from them except to work their asses off for the barons of industry.
Sure beats having to work our asses off growing turnips to stave off hunger through the winter months. Thanks to the barons of industry, I don't have a root cellar, but a finished basement with giant screen HDTV.
 

ric27

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U.S. Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan - NYTimes.com



Wow, that's just...awesome. This could be a path to stability and prosperity for a country that seemed to have no hope of either.
All that "wealth" means squat if there is no working governmental apparatus. Until a *real* government is in place, you won't be able to exploit the "wealth" to benefit, the gen pop.

Another issue is security. All that mineral wealth will just flow across the border...unchecked and probably would make the already monstrous amount of corruption and rift worse.
 

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We will make capitalists out of those people yet and this is our ticket to glory!! I was all worth it.
 

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All that "wealth" means squat if there is no working governmental apparatus. Until a *real* government is in place, you won't be able to exploit the "wealth" to benefit, the gen pop.

Another issue is security. All that mineral wealth will just flow across the border...unchecked and probably would make the already monstrous amount of corruption and rift worse.
Let's hope they fail, right?
 
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