The New York Times has reported that U.S. officials and American geologists have found an estimated $1 trillion worth of mineral deposits that have yet to be exploited in the country. The paper said a Pentagon report called Afghanistan potentially “the Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key component in batteries for cellphones, laptop computers and eventually, a plug-in fleet of electric cars.
In December, 2007, China’s state-owned China Metallurgical Group Corp. (MCC) signed a $2.9 billion agreement with the Kabul government to extract copper from the Aynak deposit, one of the world’s largest unexploited copper deposits with an estimated 240 million tons of ore. When MCC entered into negotiations with the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, it offered substantial aid for resource development as part of the package.
Of course in order to move the ore Afghanistan needs a rail system. Afghanistan ‘s mining minister appointed China Metallurgical Group Corp. to carry out technical studies for two proposed rail lines in the country from Kabul to Turkam in the east, and Kabul to Mazar-e-Sharif in the north. The rail lines are seen as essential to help Afghanistan develop a mining industry that could bring in billions of sorely needed dollars to the impoverished nation.
Naturally China really wants gas and oil and once again Afghanistan’s government signed a deal with China’s state-owned National Petroleum Corporation, allowing it to become the first foreign company to exploit the country’s oil and natural gas reserves.The ministry listed the initial value of the project with CNPC as $700 million. But the total could be ten times greater if more reserves are found and developed.
The government of Afghanistan also granted key gold and cooper licenses to a consortium backed by City of London banker Ian Hannam, former BHP Billiton CEO Chip Goodyear and Poland’s multibillionaire Jan Kulczyk. In addiation Afghan Gold and Minerals, Afghan Minerals Group, and Turkish-Afghan Mining Co. had been picked from a shortlist of 25 bidders to explore and start developing the Balkhab, Shaida and Badakhshan projects respectively. Afghan Gold and Minerals (owned by Sadat Mansoor Naderi) will have copper explorations rights over the Balkhab, northwest of the capital Kabul. Not sure who owns the Turkish-Afghan Mining Co. Also, Afghan Minerals Group was granted Thursday a license to explore the Shaida copper deposit, in the province of Herat, in western Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Turkish-Afghan Mining obtained the license for the Badakhshan gold and copper deposit, in the Badakhshan province, in north-eastern Afghanistan.
Afghanistan’s government granted an Indian steel company the right to exploit the Hajigak iron ore deposit which is considered one of the largest iron deposits in the world at 1.8 billion tonnes. The Indian company wants to ship the ore through Pakistan to India, which might seem a bit of a problem but the amount of money to be make by trucking firm and Government fee’s means that the green light will be given.
They are a lot of other businesses (and NGO’s) looking to profit from the Afganie war as well.