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Afghan Tech Minerals — Cure, Curse, Or Hype? 184

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-of-the-above dept.
Gooseygoose writes "The Pentagon revealed recently that Afghanistan has as much as $1 trillion in mineral wealth, a potential game changer in the ongoing conflict there. Many news outlets have picked up this story, some simply repeating the official talking points, while others raise serious concerns. Is this 'discovery' just hype, or will it truly alter the landscape of the Afghan war? Perhaps more importantly, can this mineral wealth (whether real or illusory) pave the way to a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan, or is it more likely to drive geopolitical feedback loops that plunge the region further into turmoil?" Relatedly, Marc Ambinder wrote a few days ago in the Atlantic that the US had knowledge of vast mineral deposits in Afghanistan several years ago, giving the recent announcement the appearance of a PR campaign.
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Afghan Tech Minerals — Cure, Curse, Or Hype?

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  • by 2obvious4u (871996) on Friday June 18, 2010 @02:38PM (#32616540)
    It is all three.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by sycodon (149926)

      And what we will do again is to develop the natural resources in yet another unstable, chaotic, barbaric society.

      • by iamhassi (659463)
        "And what we will do again is to develop the natural resources in yet another unstable, chaotic, barbaric society."

        haven't you seen Avatar?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by sycodon (149926)

          Seems to me that Avatar is pretty much the anti-Taliban given the way the women dressed.

    • by kubitus (927806)
      M$ tactics deployed by DOD
    • by Stargoat (658863) <stargoat@gmail.com> on Friday June 18, 2010 @03:18PM (#32617242) Journal

      It's a funny thing that having wonderful natural resources dampens other parts of the economy. It's called Dutch Disease [wikipedia.org], and was diagnosed some time ago. Kind of makes you want to re-read Diamond's Guns Germs and Steel.

      • by rednip (186217)

        That's like telling a starving man that he shouldn't eat so much, less he have a tummy ache.

    • by Iron Condor (964856) on Friday June 18, 2010 @03:22PM (#32617316)

      It is all three.

      I doubt it is hype. There's technologies deployed right this moment in Afghanistan that people could only dream about as little as five years ago. The sheer flood of data generated by any attempt to map an entire country's mineral deposits would have been impossible to even just store (much less process) when people were unaccustomed to using the term "TB". It is not in the least surprising that we're now finding things like this that were there all along right under our nose. If only we had the capability to store a kilobyte of spectral data per square meter of a whole country.

      I also doubt that this will make Afghanistan any better off. In terms of mineral wealth, Africa is the richest continent on earth. Most of the interesting metals (from uranium to gold) and most of the expensive non-metal materials (from diamonds to sapphires) are found in Africa. And all that wealth has bough it ... what exactly?

      (And I am not in the least suggesting that the Pentagon has been mapping Afghanistan in a humanitarian effort to chart its wealth. The same spectroscopic technologies that tell you "this mountain is full of Chromium" will also tell you that it is "full of opium", "full of dynamite" or even "full of people").

      • by thaig (415462)

        In the case of South Africa it has bought them a high GDP per capita (for a developing nation), strong diversified economy and very good infrastructure. i.e. they may not be at the end of the journey but they have plenty to hope for. It did not happen overnight though.

      • by Anpheus (908711) on Friday June 18, 2010 @07:58PM (#32620930)

        I think part of the equation is accessibility. If the resources are close enough to the ground that you can get villagers to dig them out for you by pointing a gun at them, you might end up with some of the worser situations in Africa.

        If the resources require a significant investment of technology and infrastructure, well, large companies will come in and employ locals and bring in a lot of money, which may bring in other businesses to serve them.

        I'm hoping these huge deposits are deep, deep under the ground. Just barely within range of our instruments, and that the dollar figure to get to them is as large as possible. Because if all it takes is a shovel, Afghanistan is in for a ride.

      • To put things in perspective here what was found is some summaries of some surveys from the 1980s from Russian mineral exploration. I'm not sure how new that is since western companies have had access to 1980s Russian seismic data used in oil exploration in Afganistan probably since the mid 1990s.
        I think what is new is that a journalist saw it.
        As for the condescending bit about things we could only dream about five years ago - a TB is still a TB even if it's on 6000 nine track reels from 1975 and in the pa
  • This seems to be a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. Bush warned us about this long ago and tried to save us.

  • by swschrad (312009) on Friday June 18, 2010 @02:40PM (#32616584) Homepage Journal

    go back to the Soviet occupation days.

    proving once again that some governments are simply so corrupt they can't sell anything because the bribes are too complex to figure out, even with computers.

    • by sznupi (719324)

      Are you sure it's not because the map of teritory under real control (an essential thing for large scale utilisation of resources...) looks like this [wikimedia.org]? (not that much different nowadays...)

      And of course the issue on the part of Afghanis isn't that merely the government is corrupt...

  • It is just PR... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Maddog Batty (112434) on Friday June 18, 2010 @02:40PM (#32616586) Homepage

    El Reg just thinks it is a complete PR exercise.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/06/18/afghanistan_mineral_report/ [theregister.co.uk]

    Extracting the wealth is neither simple or sensible.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rolfwind (528248)

      I read the reasoning and much of it was infrastructure rather than it not being there or straight out infeasible in all instances. China will swoop in sometime (not necessarily waiting until we leave) and invest in the good mines, as they are doing all over Africa and other parts of the world while our government is investing in failed banks and overunionized industries.

      I don't see this as a bad thing, China is growing and they'll need copper from somewhere. And I don't think it's cost effective to keep t

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by blair1q (305137)

        It' s not at all unreasonable that there's a trillion dollars in "mineral wealth" there.

        Sand is worth about $9/ton, so just scraping off and selling the top 8.5 cm of the country will get them a $trillion at retail.

        The question is what kind of profit is there to be had on it?

    • by Benfea (1365845) on Friday June 18, 2010 @03:22PM (#32617326)

      ...it still doesn't mean diddly to the average Afghan. They just have to look at Africa to know that none of them will see any benefit from this. To the average Joe on the street, all this means is that the local street thugs who make their lives miserable will have better weapons.

  • by sean_nestor (781844) on Friday June 18, 2010 @02:41PM (#32616602) Homepage
    Afghan minerals may reach 3 trillion dollars: minister [google.com]

    Again - no idea whether this is true or just hype, but thought it was worth mentioning.

    • by Dracos (107777)

      Mostly due to the USD losing 66.6667% of its current value by the time any sizable western-based mining operations can begin.

      I read somewhere that China swooped in and got at least ten mines operational during the 90's, and some of them may still be running.

  • by Beezlebub33 (1220368) on Friday June 18, 2010 @02:42PM (#32616628)
    It's obviously a PR stunt, but really that might be what they need.

    It's not clear what the US goal is in Afghanistan, and how to get there. But the possibility of mineral wealth can be a useful fact in affecting the calculus of other countries in how they deal with the conflict. The possibility of lots of lithium can be very important to the Chinese, and having their backing in making Afghanistan stable would be very welcome. It's going to be a corrupt hellhole no matter what the US does, but if enough other countries want it to be a stable, mineral-producing, corrupt hellhole then maybe it will be.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday June 18, 2010 @03:01PM (#32616998) Journal
      "Scenic Afghanistan: The Nigeria of the Middle East"...
    • by Glith (7368)

      China is already involved in copper mining in Afghanistan, but its policy is non-interference cash and carry.

      Of course, it's able to do so because there's US troops there defending their miners.

  • Wealth won't help (Score:4, Informative)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday June 18, 2010 @02:43PM (#32616660)
    Poor religious nutballs will just become rich religious nutballs. And if anyone thinks that the Afghan mainstream aren't a bunch of religious nutballs, go rent a documentary called Afghan Star [imdb.com] (about the Afghan equivalent of "American Idol") and watch what happens when a female contestant dares to dance on stage.
    • Re:Wealth won't help (Score:5, Informative)

      by nyctopterus (717502) on Friday June 18, 2010 @02:56PM (#32616924) Homepage

      This is a problem both the left and the right don't seem to be able to face. The majority of people in a lot of middle eastern counties support a kind of religious tyranny whether they are wealthy or not. Not all people, by any means, but a majority. Bring democracy and wealth to these places without liberalism is not going to get the results we want. In fact it's going to bring disaster, by giving radical religious tyranny democratic legitimacy and the wealth to throw their weight around.

      The liberal part of rich liberal democracies is the most important ingredient. Democracy is more of a safety valve, the riches a by-product (and luck, of course).

      • Re:Wealth won't help (Score:5, Interesting)

        by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday June 18, 2010 @03:31PM (#32617470)
        There is a long-standing belief in the west that you can fight religious intolerance and hatred with prosperity and education (i.e. "These people are only religious fanatics because they're poor and desperate, or because they're just ignorant and in need of education." But the hard truth is that this is just not the case. You can give a fanatic wealth and education, and that won't change them a bit. If you don't believe it, read the bio of the most infamous one of all [wikipedia.org].
        • Re:Wealth won't help (Score:4, Interesting)

          by trytoguess (875793) on Friday June 18, 2010 @04:07PM (#32618088)

          It doesn't do much for the current generation, but education does slowly secularize the subsequent generations. How do you think the U.S went from having pockets of people who think singing is a sin to... well something considerably more tolerant at least.

          • U.S went from having pockets of people who think singing is a sin to... well something considerably more tolerant at least.

            ... yeah, your argument went a bit off the rails there... heh, I kid, because I think you're right to a certain extent. Education is important, but it must be universal. But I would argue freedom of speech is the most important thing. Far more important than democracy, education, or wealth for setting up a free, democratic and wealthy society.

        • Indeed, I think its a kind of arrogance. As you say, we tend to picture the people that live in poorer countries as being desperate and ignorant.

          The reality is that they are a complex product of a bunch of different things, just as people in rich countries. I recently went on holiday to Swaziland. Swaziland is pretty poor, by any standards, but the people were not fanatical or ignorant by any means. I was quite surprised when we asked night-watchman of our camp (who was part of an evangelical church by the

        • by Dragonslicer (991472) on Friday June 18, 2010 @04:16PM (#32618224)
          I don't think the idea is that giving one poor religious fanatic a lot of money will suddenly make them not fanatic. The idea is supposed to be that if you get enough wealth into the society as a whole (i.e. not concentrated in a small, elite class), the standard of living rises enough that the people value their own lives over the chance to kill foreigners. We saw this happening in Iran's last election, when the growing merchant class wanted a government that was more likely to leave them alone than execute them or provoke a dozen other countries into attacking them. Obviously this doesn't hold true for every individual, but it is true for a majority of typical people.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by spun (1352)

        The common wisdom leaves out liberalism altogether, the debate being whether democracy brings about wealth or wealth brings democracy. I like your argument better, as it explains more of the actual facts in places like the middle east.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Exactly. It's not like oppressive Islamic theocracies haven't discovered mineral riches before. They merely become rich, oppressive, Islamic theocracies. Whether it's lithium or oil makes no difference.

  • Several years (Score:3, Interesting)

    by icebike (68054) on Friday June 18, 2010 @02:43PM (#32616664)

    Yes, it was clearly stated that some of the information used to research these deposits was found in Russian documents left over from the occupation.

    So since these documents were discovered (in country) several years ago, clearly they knew about it several years ago.

    But So what? The Russians knew about it even LONGER ago, but some how this is ignored when raising the question of whether the deposits are "real or illusory".

    It takes time to follow someone else's notes, written in Russian, get core samples (in a war zone). On what date should the announcement have been made?

    The Russians knew, and hid it from the Afgans. The US/Nato surveyed the deposits and published it.

    Somehow US/Nato gets scapegoated and the Russians are forgotten.

    What's up with that?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TubeSteak (669689)

      It takes time to follow someone else's notes, written in Russian, get core samples (in a war zone).

      If you read the original NY Times article, they did arial surveys over most of the country, not boots on the ground core samples.

    • Okay, just going out on a limb here, but maybe people kinda expect the Russians to be secretive and diabolical, but hold NATO to an higher standard?

      • by icebike (68054)

        Then why not recognize when they meet that standard by documenting and mapping Russian preliminary findings and PUBLISHING the information and providing it to the Afghans?

        Why the sinister suggestions of evil intent?

        • Re:Several years (Score:4, Insightful)

          by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Friday June 18, 2010 @03:57PM (#32617938) Journal

          Then why not recognize when they meet that standard by documenting and mapping Russian preliminary findings and PUBLISHING the information and providing it to the Afghans?

          Why the sinister suggestions of evil intent?

          Because congress just turned down a military request for more funds for the first time in decades. This report has been ready for ages, the military has been saving it for just such an occasion. The idea being, every representative will be thinking, who gets the contracts to develop? Someone from my state, or another state? The military gets a big say in this: this company can perform work in a war zone, this one isn't capable, and so on. So, it isn't so much a sinister suggestion of evil intent as glaring example of realpolitik in action.

    • Re:Several years (Score:5, Interesting)

      by radtea (464814) on Friday June 18, 2010 @03:14PM (#32617192)

      What's up with that?

      What's up is that the people who brought you Iraqi WMDs are lying again.

      The numbers are fictitious and "Stephen Peters, the head of the USGS’s Afghanistan Minerals Project, said that he was unaware of USGS involvement in any new surveying for minerals in Afghanistan in the past two years. 'We are not aware of any discoveries of lithium,' he said." [timesonline.co.uk]

      So the Pentagon has basically gathered up a bunch of old data, done some overflight surveys with no ground truth, and made up numbers. Anyone who knows anything about geology knows what a tricky business mineral exploration is, even without deliberate fraud, and yet the American media reacted with breathless excitment rather than honest and fully justified scepticism to this propaganda.

      What's up with that?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by icebike (68054)

        Why would the USGS be involved?

        Of course he knows nothing, his mandate is state side.

        Arial survey (magnetometer) of these kinds of minerals is pretty accurate, and you can contract for that privately.

        In order to believe your conspiracy theory, you have to believe it was all planned and started when the Russians were occupying the country.

        Tinfoil hat much?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 18, 2010 @02:45PM (#32616700)

    What are THOSE AFGHANS doing sitting on OUR MINERALS?

    • by spun (1352)

      Granny just covered up the minerals with afghans [wikipedia.org] because she fricken' covers everything with afghans.

  • We have people in our country (the U.S.) and in other countries who want access to the resources of Afghanistan. They will (and probably already have) petitioned their governments for [military] protection as they attempt to claim these resources. If there is enough money in these resources, there will be enough military presence installed in a region to protect the people and equipment used to exorcise the resources. The by-product of a successful military protection campaign is that a region will also

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by zrelativity (963547)
      Ah, people either do not study history or are incapable of thinking. Just remember the history of the British East India Company.
  • by eightball (88525) on Friday June 18, 2010 @02:49PM (#32616780) Journal

    That much is true. However accounting requires discovery, then investigation.

    If the US government had announced three years ago a large estimate of mineral wealth based on the fact that some soldiers noticed a lot of ore lying around, would we be saying "at least they are not trying to make a big deal out of 3 year old news!"?

    My impression is politically, POTUS would rather be saying "so Afghanistan, you got the check? I'm outta here" as opposed to "great another set of targets to defend!".

  • Oh so ridiculous (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ancient_Hacker (751168) on Friday June 18, 2010 @02:51PM (#32616828)

    What a ridiculous story.

    Nobody is going to invest the needed billions of dollars in a country with no real government, no laws, no protection for private property, and every expectation of being taken over by the Taliban as soon as the US army leaves.

    It would take billions in up-front investment, as Afghanistan does not have any of the needed things: water, power, roads, engineers, chemical plants, railroads, ports, diging machines, huge trucks, smelters, coal, oil, and gas. Billions, and at least ten years to build the infrastructure before a pound of ore comes out of there.

    And minerals only get extracted if the cost is less there than from the developed sources. That's unlikely, due to the needed up-front investment. And one of the alleged largest supplies, Lithium, is already being mined very, very cheaply in South America, where there are huge easily-accessed deposits.

    • Nobody is going to invest the needed billions of dollars in a country with no real government, no laws, no protection for private property, and every expectation of being taken over by the Taliban as soon as the US army leaves.

      It would take billions in up-front investment, as Afghanistan does not have any of the needed things: water, power, roads, engineers, chemical plants, railroads, ports, diging machines, huge trucks, smelters, coal, oil, and gas. Billions, and at least ten years to build the infrastructure before a pound of ore comes out of there.

      Also, if they were able to extract it at the rate of 50 billion dollars worth per year - to put their economy in the same league as such heavyweights as Syria and Bulgaria [wikipedia.org] - there would only be a 20 year boom before it was exhausted.

      And of course, most of the money would go into the pockets of the corporations that extracted it, rather than into the Afghan economy.

  • There are valuable minerals everywhere. The question is are the minerals worth more than it would cost to mine them.
    • True. Afghanistan is about the size of Texas. Any mountainous land mass that big is bound to have mineral wealth, just based upon the law of averages. The issues are always related to acquisition cost.
  • by SlappyBastard (961143) on Friday June 18, 2010 @02:57PM (#32616944) Homepage
    That was the announcement in 1974 courtesy of the Pentagon. Need we explore this further?
  • by jprupp (697660)
    I am from Venezuela, and our experience with oil is that it's more of a bane. Rich countries rarely arise where there are valuable mineral resources. These merely become corrupt underdevelopped monoproducing big mines controlled by an economical and political elite or neo-communist populist totalitarian ruler.
  • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Friday June 18, 2010 @03:02PM (#32617012) Homepage

    But it looks like they finally found Whopping Mineral Deposits in Afghanistan.

    Time to go after those WMDs, folks.

  • One of the prevailing sentiments is "the Russians found it first and forgot about it." They didn't forget about it, they were too busy fighting insurgents to ever exploit the resources. Then, once they got kicked out, the nation got taken over by tribal infighting and eventually the Taliban. They seemed a little to concerned with actively driving their nation into some sort of religious dark age to consider maybe making use of their natural resources. The Taliban were legitimate bad guys. It's kind of a sha

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TDyl (862130)
      "The Taliban were legitimate bad guys"

      These are the same "Taliban" that the US funded for decades and for whom they provided training and other non-munition resources. The history of the US is one of hypocrisy and so many double standards that I wonder if you are on no one elses side other than your own perverted sense of morality and ethics.
      • by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday June 18, 2010 @03:36PM (#32617562)
        The U.S.'s mistake doesn't excuse what the Taliban did, or change the fact that they were legitimate bad guys--of epic proportion.
      • by russotto (537200)

        These are the same "Taliban" that the US funded for decades

        Citation needed.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by eightball (88525)

        The Taliban has only existed since 1994, so that gives them at most 7 years of funding opportunity before they ran afoul of the US. Even so, I can only remember some anti-drug money going to the Taliban.

        Ok, so you respond, we armed and funded the mujahedin, part of which eventually formed the Taliban. This is not what you stated in this post, though. Glad to know you never made a decision that went against your initial hopes, though.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Wrath0fb0b (302444)

        These are the same "Taliban" that the US funded for decades and for whom they provided training and other non-munition resources.

        Yes, and that was a mistake. It was a worse mistake than that -- we gave them training in weapons and explosives as well. Much of the know-how in Taliban IEDs traces its source to the CIA. That said, the fact that we made mistakes in the 1980s does not preclude us from ever acting in Afghanistan again. If anything, it increases our duty to eliminate the monsters we created.

        It is beyond question that American foreign policy over the past 50 years has been a mixed bag. To my mind, that truth does not help one

    • by endus (698588)

      The tone of your post implies that the world has some kind of right to the mineral deposits there and that the taliban was committing some kind of crime against humanity by failing to exploit them.

      Let me make it clear that I am no fan of the taliban...apart from the obvious (terror, death, destruction, etc) I think the subjugation of women really IS a crime against humanity and 'backwards' in every sense of the word.

      However, like it or not Afghanistan is (well, was) a sovreign nation and that nation has the

  • Afghanis realizing the benefits of minerals in their contry is about as likely to happen as finding yellowcake uranium in Nigeria.

    • by dwye (1127395)
      Yellowcake uranium is easy to find in Niger. The question was whether Saddam was trying to buy it or not, and why.
  • If you stop to think about it what purpose does the Iraq and Afghanistan wars serve the US? It is not about "Democratization" as some have said as both countries have been allowed to reform under demagogues. Iraq could have been about oil but the PRC has most of the contracts. It could be about Billions to be made by insider contractions "servicing" the war.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Xanthvar (1046980)
      "If you stop to think about it what purpose does the Iraq and Afghanistan wars serve the US?"

      The Afghanistan war (not Iraq), was to destroy an enemy strong hold that planned and launched an attack on the US, targeting civilians, and succeed in killing more of them, than in any other foreign attack. (No, not referring to the attack on Pearl Harbor, that at least was an attack in military targets, an US civilian casualties was collateral damage).
      Yes, most of the attackers were from Saudi Arabia, but they wer
  • ... then we found the reason behind the war.

    • by gtall (79522)

      yeah, I mean 9/11 never happened and certainly wouldn't happen again given the Taliban's plans to take over Central Asia. They're merely misunderstood.

  • by jeffmeden (135043) on Friday June 18, 2010 @03:13PM (#32617180) Homepage Journal

    How about turning back the clock to 1978 and stopping Afghanistan from winding up in the middle of the US/Soviet pissing contest? Don't get me wrong, I fully think the Soviets are to blame for spoiling a hundred years of hard work by the Afghanis. But, it's all too easy to wonder what the world would have been like if the "communist threat" could have stayed inside Russia's borders, through decisive action instead of slow, "cold" influences on the region. Heck, in hindsight they may have been better off just becoming a part of the Soviet Union; we see a lot less terrorism and unrest out of the former Soviet states than this one that "won" against them. It's hard to argue that Afghanistan of today is in any better shape than the Soviet Union was at any point in it's past; if they had started rebuilding in 1991 instead of 20?? who knows how close they could be to a functioning country again.

    For a look into what Afghanistan was like (and in all likelihood would still be like without direct foreign intervention) see this story: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=127914602 [npr.org]

    • Don't get me wrong, I fully think the Soviets are to blame for spoiling a hundred years of hard work by the Afghanis.

      The USSR was fighting radical Islamic extremism. The more secular Marxist government of Afghanistan requested Soviet help to fend off attacks by radical Muslims. This has been further advanced by the declassification of many internal Soviet era documents.

      The CIA, with several hundred billion dollars of US Taxpayer and Saudi money, radicalized the "freedom fighters" -- now called "insurgents" -- and armed a good number of jihadists from around the globe. Internally this was described as "giving the Soviet Un

      • by gad_zuki! (70830)

        The "government" in Afghanistan had its president executed by the Soviets and then they forcibly installed a Soviet stooge.

        >Almost all of the misery in the middle east can be directly traced to Western powers

        Err, in this case its Eastern powers - namely Russia. The US was right in moving in and putting a check on their power and expansion, especially considering the hell hole that most Soviet countries were experiencing in both economics and basic human rights.

        The Soviets should have left well enough al

  • by TheRedDuke (1734262) on Friday June 18, 2010 @03:19PM (#32617250)
    Why bother spending all that money on infratstructure to extract those resources when you can just continue to profit from poppies and opiate production? God knows there will never cease to be a demand for that.
  • by ILongForDarkness (1134931) on Friday June 18, 2010 @03:22PM (#32617328)
    1T isn't that much money to a nation. People talk like it is going to make Afganistan rich. Lets put it in prospective: Canada ~34M people 1.3T per annum GDP. Afganistan 28M people. So all the mineral wealth of Afganistan would enable roughly the per capita GDP of Canada for one year. But of course it will take a couple generations to mine all those resources. This only takes them from poor to slightly less poor.
  • by Anarchitektur (1089141) on Friday June 18, 2010 @03:46PM (#32617728)
    It continues to amaze me how naive people are about how the world works, so I'm going to go ahead and break it down. This is a summary of what happens to resources in third world countries:

    Because they do not possess the resources, infrastructure, or expertise to mine these minerals, they will have to contract a foreign (probably US) company to do so. To finance the operation, Afghanistan will have to take out a loan from the IMF/World Bank. The corporation(s) doing the mining will reap most of the profits, with a small percentage going to key figures in the Afghan government. The only jobs this will create for the Afghan citizens is menial labor, doing the actual mining. The resources, when gone, will only have benefited the mining/engineering firm(s) involved and the people in power in Afghanistan. Afghanistan will never be able to pay off its loan to the IMF, driving it deeper into poverty, which will, in turn, drive even more locals into the opium trade.
  • by drgould (24404)

    that getting these alleged minerals out of Afghanistan is going to be a problem for western countries. Afghanistan is bordered by Iran to the west, Pakistan to the south and various other 'stans to the north.

    Oddly enough, the country that might mostly benefit from this discovery is China and perhaps India. You know China must be interested.

    • by gtall (79522)

      "You know China must be interested.", Yep, just ask the Pakistanis who seem to see an Indian behind every bush.

  • Afghan Tech Minerals

    __ Curse
    __ Cure
    __ Hype
    __ Cowboy Neal's sandbox
    __ Microsoft's real reason for going to Asia
    __ Google is indexing the minerals right now
    __ Other

  • Much of this is not new. I beleive that the British figured most of this out in the 1930s or earlier. I found information about iron and coal deposits in Afghanistan at the beginning of the war. I don't remember seeing anything about lithium though, but it was 10 years ago when I did that research.

    The U.S. Army has had this information for a couple of years. It would be nice to know what the objective is of this release. I suspect that this is either part of a psy op to put it in the minds of the tr
  • that Afghanistan has $1 Trillion in mineral wealth? Did they conduct field surveys? Why were they looking for minerals? I thought we were there for terrorists?

  • As the article mentions, and as I mentioned to everyone I knew when I originally read it, the news about minerals in Afghanistan is old. It is a poorly kept secret that the USGS has satellite surveys of mineral maps for the entire planet. Those maps were further enforced by studies done on the ground, in the field in Afghanistan.

    The ONLY reason this was brought up is because the war is falling apart. The "war on terror" meme is losing steam. Allies of the United States are jumping ship left and right.

  • Not matter what it is (of the three choices) it's bad news. One thing we know about war, its fought over territory. The more value a place has, them more people will fight over it and the more people will defend it. It feeds into the extreme islamic view of the west using them, it feeds corporations desire to get there hands in there and it feeds pain and suffering of the people who live there.

    Never once in history of multi-national corporations that a place where wealth was found did the inhabitants get r

It is the quality rather than the quantity that matters. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 B.C. - A.D. 65)

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