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14 June 2010


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This is known since the Russians did the surveys back in the late 70s. The Geospital Agenciy added to that and the numbers are public since 2007.

That does not mean that anyone will get hands on those riches anytime soon.

This seems to me like a quite obvious move by the Pentagon to find some support for justifying and prolonging the war.

The news over the last weeks was bad for Petreus and McChrystal. They needed something "positive" in Afghanistan so the pulled this out of the drawers.

RAISER William

Poor Afghanistan! As if wars were not enough, now the corporate invasion and occupation.

The Pentagon "under secretary for business" (since when did such become a focus for the Pentagon?) is "helping" the Afghan ministry of mines develop the legal framework for mining activities and to negotiate with mining companies. I suppose this is much like how the US "helped" Iraq develop its oil laws (which Iraqi oil workers have so far blocked) designed to facilitate US corporate take-over of the Iraqi oil industry.

(PL) "It does not mean that the US is going to keep a big force in Afghanistan any more than Iraqi oil has had the effect of causing the US to want a permanent large military presence there." If the US doesn't "want a permanent large military presence there", why have we invested billions in four or more mega bases in the country?

US corporate interests, promoted by US military interventions, are all too evident throughout the Middle-East.

Isn't Afghanistan a counter story since there was nothing for the US to want before this find? Not at all. Before 2001, the Taliban leaders of Afghanistan were welcomed visitors to Texas to negotiate a deal for an oil pipeline across Afghanistan to transport central Asian oil to a Pakistan port.

As I said, poor Afghanistan! They're up against forces much too big for them -- US, China, Taliban...


$6 billion worth of asbestos? $700 million in lapus lazuli? Not to mention $270 billion in copper. Right. Perhaps I was premature to ask what "expeditionary economics' was on the last posting:

Speaking of Copper, Chile is sure to be happy with the competition. Lithium is mentioned, but no dollar figure listed other than 'rare earth elements'. But lets not forget the great 'finds' in Bolivia:
"This is dwarfed, however, by the potential lithium in Bolivia. The US Geological Survey claims at least 5.4 million tons of lithium could be extracted in Salar De Uyuni, while another report puts it as high as nine million tons. "

I'm sure Karzai's government will be just as 'free market' as Bolivia's. And of course they can pay back all the bills for the last 9 years of war; after, of course, someone else pays for new electric power plants, roads, rail lines and all the other assorted infrastructure needed to extract this trillion dollars of minerals. Provided that the Karzai government can actually get all the assorted players to stop shooting at each other first.

If it sounds too good to be true....

Patrick Lang


We spend money because we can, and it is now a habit to gold plate everything and enrich companies that bid on contracts. It doesn't have a thing to do with strategic thinking. Just watch. In a few years the Iraqis will be trying to figure out what to do with those bases. That will be after they loot them


You could be right about McChrystal looking ofr an excuse to stay. It won't work. we are leaving.


Gates is big into the "business development" thing. It is one of his favorite projects in both Iraq and Afghanistan. pl

Roy G

The lithium will come in handy when we all need stronger meds!

Elsewhere, it has been noted that mineral wealth does not necessarily correlate to an increase in wealth for the people of Afghanistan; the example of many African countries proves this point.

The beaver

China is already exploiting:

though it seems that the Soviets made some discoveries sometimes ago:

Stephen Jones

The timing of this frontpage NYT story is suspect, and as 'b' above points out, this is not new news.

Curiously,there was a NYT editorial the day before that asserted that:

“Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s strategy still seems like the best chance to defeat the insurgents...”

If these are not coordinated elements of an Information Ops project by the Defense Department I'll eat my hat.


Mineral wealth is a two edged sword, as the pelicans & the turtles in the Gulf of Mexico are finding out. It doesn't always translate into wealth for the commoners and health for the ecosystem.

Natural gas using fracturing in the U.S. uses toxic chemicals and destroys groundwater. Unwitting landowners that have signed leases have found their spigots on fire.

Speaking of Copper, the first rich veins were mostly in the island of Cyprus, pronounced in Greek Kyprus which gave the metal its name. That is one place where Turkish PM Erdogan still has not realized his goal of zero problems as the island is still partitioned. A lot of ethnic cleansing ocurred there w/ mainland Turks brought over as settlers.

I note that a lot of ethnic Armenians are sticking it to the Turks in this flotilla brouha in blog comment sections (not this one) forgetting that the bonds between the Israeli & Turkish military began to deepen when Israel destroyed Armenian resistance camps in southern Lebanon in their 1980's invasion.

John Minnerath

It's important to pay attention to some of the points in the Times article.
There will be a huge time lag before any mineral production can take place.
The country has never before had any sort of major industrial development so there is nothing in place to help it get started.
There is zip concern for environmental impact and international mining and mineral companies aren't known for their care until forced.
And of course certain people will become obscenely wealthy while the general population receives little.
New mineral exploitation in the third world is an ugly business.

I take this "new" information as something to just draw attention away from the existing problems.


I'd beg to differ on Afghani's lives being changed for the better by the mineral wealth.

Like the curse of black gold, in oil rich countries, ordinary lives would change for the worse.

Take for example, bauxite in Orissa, India, worth about 4 Trillion. There's currently a full fledged 'maoist' insurgency going on in Orissa.

The GoI says Maoists, rights activists say, them tribals fighting dispossession. Posco, Vedanta are some of the MNC companies bandied about.


That's just the story of the bauxite in Orissa. Expand the $4 trillion to include the value of the millions of tonnes of high-quality iron ore in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand and the 28 other precious mineral resources, including uranium, limestone, dolomite, coal, tin, granite, marble, copper, diamond, gold, quartzite, corundum, beryl, alexandrite, silica, fluorite and garnet.

Good thing, there's no government in A'stan. Otherwise these pesky rights activists....


The Chinese are going to be very happy about our surveys.

Col., can you explain "Gates is big into the "business development" thing."


The timing of this "discovery" is very convenient as the pressure for withdrawal grows ever stronger. They must have known about it for years.

>An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,”

I suspect the DRC is probably a better comparison. They've already got their warlords in situ.


Wonder if we'll get to see the Afghan version, starring with the likes of
Jed, Elly May, Jethro, and Daisy Clampett.

Patrick Lang


he has a major project run by a young friend of his that seeks business development in both countries. pl


This is an entirely inexpert opinion but it seems like Afghanistan is in a better position for the average person to see some benefits from resource wealth than other states. Since the central government is weak and the government lacks any ability to enforce it's will, a company wanting to mine is going to have to buy off every group between the mine and the border if it wants to get it's minerals out. Since the groups are small and (again from what I know) often organized at the village level, this means lots of money getting spread around. Contrast this to more centralized and modern states where you just have to bribe a handful of regulators and legislators to get the rights to extract resources.


I was thinking along the same lines, b... Let me also add that since the war in Afghanistan has become Obama's War and since the New York Times seems to be cozying up to the Democratic Party, similar to the way Fox News cozies up to the Republican Party, this may explain why the New York Times is going way out of its way to put a positive spin on the war in Afghanistan.

But because Fox News and the New York Times both enjoy cozying up to Israel, even as Israel has become outrun with ultra-Zionist zealots, who strongly believe that it is their God-given right to commit apartheid, bordering on genocide, against the people of Palestine, these two news outlets are equals in terms of putting a very negative spin on Iran in hopes of getting us into a war against Iran.


American geologists who assessed Afghanistan's mineral deposits realized the potentially vast economic benefits of the minerals as far back as 2007, according to U.S. Geological Survey documents from that time.
Many have noted the fact -- mentioned by the Times -- that the original USGS report on the mineral deposits was released way back in 2007. The Times reported that the USGS report "gathered dust for two more years, ignored by officials in both the American and Afghan governments." According to the Times, until a Pentagon business development team noticed the USGS study in 2009, "no one had sought to translate the technical data to measure the potential economic value of the mineral deposits."

But there's evidence that the geologists knew full well what they were dealing with. The USGS press release on the Afghanistan survey, dated November 2007, notes in the second sentence that, "Mineral resources present a great source for a country's industrial growth and wealth."

Interesting timing, indeed

clifford kiracofe

1. All old news really...
so my question is just why is this floated right now by the NYT??? The timing interests me.



And what about the Chinese out there? Old news but:

2. Mining projects have very long lead times from feasibility studies to syndication of loans to all that goes into such large scale undertakings.

Also, one needs transportation infrastructure to haul raw materials or whatever out...railroads, for example, some of which which could lead to ports so that the raw or processed materials can be put on ships.

3. Such large scale projects offer attrractive targets: the bridges/roads/railroads supporting them not to mention the personnel working on them.

I had to look into all this some thirty years ago in Southern Africa...."resource war" and the "Cape Route" were hot items of that day.

Back then it was the Soviet threat and today well....maybe the "Chinese threat" and "Russian threat" and, and....?

Again, why this timing for such old news?????



One has to wonder if his young friend will give him a 'percentage' of the business profits once he's no longer OSD. Maybe a trust fund perhaps?

The Twisted Genius

I don't see this helping the Pentagon's spin machine in any way. They would have to change "Enduring Freedom" to "Enduring Loot." I predict Smedley Butler would rise from the grave and kick the first government official that suggests keeping the troops in Afghanistan to secure the mineral wealth square in his nuts... and I, for one, would be cheering that jarhead on.

As others have pointed out, extraction of the minerals would require a long term investment. If the U.S. mining industry wants to make that investment, let them pay the bill in full. I actually wish them success. China is much better positioned to make this long term investment. They are more focused on the economic pillar of strategic power and have demonstrated this throughout Africa and with their investment in Afghan copper.


It appears one of the carry-overs of Afghanistan and Iraq is the pressure by both DOD and DHS to use drones inside the U.S.. Which IMO is a bad idea, and if allowed will set a bad precedent for potential abuses down the line.

Feds under pressure to open US skies to drones

Patrick Lang


Surely not! pl



To 'use' drones along the 'border corridors' is one thing, but use them 'inside' the U.S. proper is another matter. IMO if such is allowed we will witness 'abuses' by the entire gamut of of law enforcement from local to the highest Federal levels. IMO if drones are allowed to operate 'inside the U.S.', they won't be used for intelligence purposes only. Drones used inside the U.S. will be additional eyes for a hostile foreign intelligence that has penetrated our U.S. law enforcement at all levels.

Cloned Poster

@The Twisted Genius

Enduring Oil Spill

what about that?

John Minnerath

I don't know how drones got tossed in and I hadn't heard about this desire to fly them over the US.
Lord spare us!
Shades of Nineteen Eighty-four!

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