If you were concerned the U.S. doesn’t have compelling economic reasons to remain engaged militarily in Afghanistan, this NYT article suggests you might want to reserve judgement:

“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.”

Do the people of Afghanistan WANT their nation to be transformed into a more first-world economy via mining industrialization? Somehow I doubt there will be a referendum on this.

Anyone else think this sounds remarkably similar to the plot line of “Avatar?”

Via http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/14/world/asia/14minerals.html
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6 Responses to Mining could transform the economy of Afghanistan

  1. John Martin says:

    I was thinking along different lines although you raise a good point. I was thinking more about the impact that this might have on the country as it relates to the poppy crop, one of the major sources of the heroin trade. What might happen if there were a more lucrative option than drugs? Of course the problem here is that the country’s infrastructure is barely able to sustain itself without assistance. How would they develop a structure that would support a new albeit lucrative industry? And if they cannot do it without outside influence or support, then perhaps your fears may be on point.

  2. nav says:

    america is a filthy robber, thats it!

  3. does anyone really believe this came as a surprise to the folks who “discovered” it?

  4. The problem is that there’s a sea change in distribution channels likely to benefit from this discovery — on all levels. In country, the people likely to benefit from (and provide benefit to others from) the discovery are much different than those running the illegal (in the rest of the world) drug trade. Externally, the distribution channels for lithium (and the other stuff that doesn’t get used to power the electric batteries so many automakers are banking next year’s income on) are radically different from the folks set up to ship out heroin and the like. Even the profiteers in the US are different. That’s not a “fix” for the Afghan economy in the making, that’s a whole ‘nother industry!

  5. Wesley Fryer says:

    Jason: The video you linked here is a post which is labeled like it is about Afghanistan, but I watched the entire clip – it doesn’t have anything to do with this topic. This video is an interview with Robert Reich, where he recommends that the Obama Administration order BP to setup a receivership account of $20 billion to pay for the costs of the oil spill. I am not familiar with the website “RealClearPolitics,” but I’ll suggest the fact that the post’s title has the world “wealth” misspelled (the full post title is “Afghanistan’s Mineral Weatlh? Nevermind”) and has a video clip which is a non-sequitur (it is not about the topic the post mentions) indicates this website is NOT reliable or valid. The issue of source validity and reliability is, of course, a good one to discuss in this context and others.

    Patrick Doherty’s article yesterday for CNN, “Afghan minerals could turn war’s tide,” IS a credible source which appears to suggest there are lots of facts here that should not be dismissed. Certainly the challenges are formidable, and my personal hope is that any development which ensues in Afghanistan could be done in an ecologically responsible manner. Typically that is NOT the case when multi-national corporations get involved in development like this. It is true that Afghanistan, at least from the perspective of people in the “developed” world, is in dire need of basic infrastructure. These mineral resources certainly could become an engine of development which enable the people and government of Afghanistan to develop a well-planned / designed / engineered infrastructure on which their nation could grow.

    There are lots of very real costs involved in development, however, and as I have read several commentators point out, the issue of government corruption is a big one. It will be interesting to see what develops on this front. I certainly do NOT think that based on the RCP video clip you provided, however, any of this needs to be dismissed.

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