Afghanistan is a country trying desperately to recover from decades of conflict. From the Soviet invasion in 1979 to the United State’s invasion in 2001, Afghanistan has suffered a multitude of setbacks and developing world devastation to its people, culture and way of life. However, Afghanistan’s way forward is sitting right under its feet.
Afghanistan’s mineral wealth of gold, copper, iron and other rare metals is valued up to 3 trillion, according to NPR. This type of money could truly turn Afghanistan from an impoverished and suffering country whose largest export is currently heroin to a country that is the envy of its neighbors.
On top of this wealth comes a recent discovery by a small group of Pentagon officials and an American geologist, that there is an estimated 1 trillion dollars worth of the rare metal lithium in massive quantities as well. An internal Pentagon memo noted that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium” a New York Times article recently stated.
The un-mined potential of the mineral wealth is so great that many believe it will attract investors before any type of mining becomes profitable.
The issue of attracting companies to begin investing in the country is another matter entirely. Afghanistan’s current instability is of major concern, the NATO pullout of the majority of its troops at the end of 2014 has most major companies in a holding matter waiting to see what changes will occur once Afghanistan is virtually in charge of all facets of running itself.
Afghan officials have recently opened up a nearly 1 billion dollar cement tender which is in part due to the fact that as of right now, Afghanistan imports virtually all of its cement (which is a 1 billion dollar drain on the economy).
Another noted fear by many potential investors is the issue of corruption in any official dealings that outside investors may have with the Afghani government. Afghanistan is routinely noted for being one of the most corrupt countries in the world. In 2012, its corruption rank according to the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index placed Afghanistan at the bottom with North Korea and Somalia.
All three countries scored an 8 out of 100, 176 countries were studied in order to compile the full table. Afghanistan has long been a country that has endured conflict after conflict, and a multitude of hardships and struggles.
However, with a lot of hard work by both international and local Afghan institutions; the nearly limitless mineral potential under its feet could truly make Afghanistan one of the most important mining countries in the world. There is not been a real chance for a country to do so much good for itself in a long time, but if both the world and Afghanistan work together, this could be the turning point that this war ravaged country so badly needs.
– Arthur Fuller