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US “Discovers” Nearly $1 Trillion In Mineral Deposits In Afghanistan

Tyler Durden
Zero Hedge
June 14, 2010

And there are those who wonder why the US has spent countless dollars and thousands of dead soldiers protecting a few desolate mountain passes in Afghanistan. And no, it turns out it is not just the opium trade. The NYT reports that “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 article continues, “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.” Ah yes – “previously unknown.” Yet the punchline of the piece : “The vast scale of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth was discovered by a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists.” Because $1 trillion worth of minerals just lie there waiting to be discovered almost 10 years after the initial incursion. Next thing you know FCX already had an entire mining infrastructure in place just in case a contingency like this miraculously occurred. In the meantime, look for gold prices to plunge as the newly uncovered gold deposits are rumored to be “large” enough to once again refill Fort Knox and to push the supply curve three miles to the right.

More on this truly “stunning” discovery:

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.

he 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 Blackberries.

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.

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.

Is it time for “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man: Part 2, the 21st Century paradigm”? Yet presumably not all is as expected: “Yet the American officials also recognize that the mineral discoveries will almost certainly have a double-edged impact. Instead of bringing peace, the newfound mineral wealth could lead the Taliban to battle even more fiercely to regain control of the country.”

Which is why it will be best to have the US military not only stay in Afghanistan indefinitely but to get a million man reinforcement surge. After all now that it is finally becoming clear that the most recent US state is located somewhere in the middle of Asia, things are about to get a whole lot more interesting.

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