One of the key reasons for the Taliban's success (if you can call it that) is that they funnel start-up money from Wahhabist groups in Saudi Arabia and Egypt into the local communities. Afghanistan's only real cash crop is the opium poppy so the taliban promotes its cultivation and uses the money from the sale to further their terrorist campaigns.
Wouldn't it be nice if Afghanistan had something else to sell…
From the New York Times:
U.S. Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan
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.
The Lithium is a very nice touch. It's used in almost every rechargeable battery these days from hybrid vehicles to hand-held power tools to electronic devices. Our primary source is China and since they are ramping up their own consumption, it will be nice to have a second source.
As a note, a lot of these minerals are freely available in the USA but the environmentalists will not let us mine them. Which is downright silly as any operation in the USA would be locked in to the mining company remediating the site after the minerals had been extracted. In other words, they go in, dig the place up, get the rocks they want, put in a groundwater barrier and top soil, replant and in 50 years, you would need to have a mining geologist to know that anything had happened at that site.
A place like China and probably like Afghanistan, they will dig, extract the resources and then move on leaving a gaping hole and leaching acids into the local environment — not a good thing for the planet at all.
Now what are the environmentalists for anyway…Posted by DaveH at June 13, 2010 11:07 PM | TrackBack