Back in 2010 the New York Times reported that the United States has discovered very large, previously unknown, mineral deposits in Afghanistan. They suggest the deposits are of Lithium, Iron, Cobalt, Gold, and Copper. A Pentagon memo suggests that Afghanistan can become the “Saudi Arabia of Lithium”. They also reported it was discovered by Pentagon officials and American geologists. Although according to a research paper by Ali and Shroder the British started mineral resource assessments in Afghanistan from 1841. A Russian geologist wrote a paper in regards to Afghanistan mineral riches in 1927, and American geologists made discoveries around 1943. According to the same paper the US Department of State were a bit slow in the sixties and seventies:
“With its attention on resources accordingly diverted elsewhere for decades to come, the US Department of State thus quite missed the resource ball when in the 1960s and 1970s; as many as ~ 250 Soviet geologists went to work mapping geology in the country while only one American geologist (co author of this paper, John Shroder) was in the country”.
A Chinese company also won a contract to extract Copper from Afghanistan in 2009. So to say it was discovered by Pentagon officials and American geologists is a bit rich to say the least.
According to NBC news from 2014 one carbonatite deposit in Helmand province is worth an estimated $89 billion, not bad for one of the poorest countries in the world. With the recent developments in Afghanistan such as the UK troops returning to Helmand province and the US possibly adding to their already 9,800 troops in the country will we see the US and the UK gaining contracts for mineral extraction, or will China and Russia gain the contracts? The countries wealth could even possibly be shared among competing Nations but I doubt it. I just hope Afghanistan gets their fair share of the pie as well as economic and job growth. At the moment it’s wait and see.