Monday, June 14, 2010

Afghanistan has Minerals - - - Cha-Ching

What Americans know about Afghanistan can probably be written in wicked small handwriting on a grain of rice. They know that we are fighting a war there. They know that the Taliban is a very bad terrorist organization.

And they know, perhaps, that Afghanistan is a country that has some very difficult topography in which to fight a war.

Afghanistan, you see, has lots and lots of high craggy mountain ranges. Because Afghanistan, you see, is right in the middle of a stupendous tectonic plate collision that has uplifted and continued to uplift ancient rock formations. And associated with these uplifts are subsurface injections of all sorts of igneous material. So you see, the geologic scenario is perfect for mineralization in ancient metamorphic rocks, mineralization in injected igneous rocks, and mineralization at their boundaries.

Afghanistan, you see, has lots and lots of minerals.

This has been known since Alexander the Great, by the way.

But apparently the big news of the day is that Afghanistan has a trillion dollars worth of minerals.

Iron, copper, gold, lithium, beryllium. The list goes on and on.

Their mineral richness was first surveyed by Russians who liked what they saw so much that they decided to invade the country. Upon re-invading the country the US has added to the database and the inventory of their mineral wealth keeps going up. Here is an Excel spreadsheet of a 2002 inventory. The minerals are listed by chemical symbol (Au = gold, Cu = copper, Pb = lead, Zn = zinc, Li = lithium, Sn = Tin, etc.)

And yes, the Afghan government knows what they have. Take a look at the Afghanistan Geological Society Website. They even have brochures that hawk their wares. I have excepted text from their Aynak Copper prospect brochure.

Aynak is a world-class copper deposit which, but for the upheavals of the last 25 years in Afghanistan, would surely have become an operating mine. Its main features are:
● world-class stratabound ore deposit (240 Mt at 2.3 % Cu)
● simple sulphide mineralogy
● amenable to open-pitting
● easy access and close to Kabul with its infrastructure
● few environmental problems
● new minerals law (2005)
● government favourable to mining development

The challenge is for an enterprising company to develop this exciting deposit.

So the question is this: we’ve known about the mineral wealth of Afghanistan since 2002 at the latest. Eight years ago. Afghanistan has remained virtually undeveloped in mining for these minerals despite the fact that all of this stuff has been known for decades, mainly because of war and civil war.

The question is: why now?

Is this a new Pentagon brochure on “Why We Fight?”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't the US be able to get their hands on some of those riches to build another golf course in the Washington DC area?