Old "News" About Untapped Afghan Minerals

Gold miner Heralded by General David Petraeus as news that may have "stunning potential," the New York Times reported that the "United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserve, and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself, according to senior American government officials."

One could take the story at face value and believe that this was actually, for once, a positive development in an increasingly unpopular and seemingly unnecessary war, but then "the real news" about the news came out. On the same day, after doing a bit of his own research, Paul Jay, CEO and Senior Editor of The Real News Network revealed that indeed, because "news" is supposed to be about a new development, this wasn't news at all, but merely well-timed strategic propaganda on the part of the U.S. government.

In his article titled U.S. Knew About Afghan Mineral Bonanza in 2007, Jay asks, "Did a 2007 report of massive mineral deposits in Afghanistan affect President Obama's 2009 decision to widen the scope of the Afghan war? Is a recent New York Times article omitting that possibility?"

Old News

He goes on to answer his own question, stating, "One did not need to read an "internal Pentagon memo" to find about the discovery. Just visit the public web site of the U.S. Geological Survey and read the press release titled "Significant Potential for Undiscovered Resources in Afghanistan," released 11/13/2007 at 10:00:00 AM, which declares the following:

Afghanistan has significant amounts of undiscovered non-fuel mineral resources according to the U.S. Geological Survey's 2007 assessment ... Estimates for copper and iron ore resources were found to have the most potential for extraction in Afghanistan. Scientists also found indications of abundant deposits of colored stones and gemstones, including emerald, ruby, sapphire, garnet, lapis, kunzite, spinel, tourmaline and peridot. Other examples of mineral resources available for extraction in Afghanistan include gold, mercury, sulfur, chromite, talc-magnesite, potash, graphite and sand and gravel.

So Why Dredge it Up Again Now?

Jay continues, "Why the story broke in the NYT on Monday could be linked to a desire by the Pentagon to create a reason why U.S. troops might want to stick around in Afghanistan for some time to come. Things are not going very well on the ground and the promise of vast mineral riches would sound enticing."

With the war quickly approaching its decade anniversary with no end in sight, and the Pentagon struggling to come up with a convincing rationale for why the U.S. should remain in Afghanistan into the future, this example shows just how desperate the U.S. is becoming to justify its exploits abroad, while neglecting the numerous problems it faces domestically.


Pity the Afghanis found a greater profit in gorwing and selling heroin than they did in mining their gemstones. Can't believe their country was rich in natural minerals all along and they didn't know!

After our troops fighting and dieing for the company that obtained the oil rights in Iraq, we learn about minerals in Afghanistan. So what international corporation is going to be the one to exploit the mineral wealth of Afghanistan? So what international corporation is going to be the one that our troops will fight, be maimed and die for now? In royalty laden Europe they used to say, "When the cousins argue, the peasants fight and die". Now we can say the same about corporations argueing, and non-wealthy troops fighting and dying.

What a lot of people don't realize is that in impoverished countries, the sudden discovery of wealth can be a massive burden if left untamed. In a country like Afghanistan, this could be the case. The reason is because when wealth like this is discovered, often times thousands of people will start waging war to attain a piece of that wealth. It happens all the time over diamonds in various countries in Africa.

<blockquote>"Other examples of mineral resources available for extraction in Afghanistan include gold, mercury, sulfur, chromite, talc-magnesite, potash, graphite and sand and gravel."</blockquote> There's a sand and gravel quarry just a few minutes' walk from where we live. We ourselves have sand and gravel under not very much topsoil. I wonder if we could sell it to the Afghans?

On-going instability in Afghanistan serves the West well. While the nation's on it's knees steal it's resources. Wonderful strategy. Peace will never come to Afghanistan until the West is actually serious about it. And it doesn't take wealth to bring peace. The minerals have remained in the ground because the Afghans haven't needed them. Before the Russian invasion they were completely self-sufficient - food, shelter, clothing. They didn't need anything else. Now they need money to rebuild their country. Can they, with guidance from the US (who want's its own share) do it sustainably, without corruption? Hmmm, more trouble ahead I feel. One thing is sure we can count on the US and its mates to maintain instability.

The real issue I see here is how easy it is to manipule media and so change people beliefs and opinions in any way you want. No one is free of it cause we all watch tv, read newspapers and so on. Question is can anyone trust any information they are getting nowadays?

I wouldn't be surprised if the US knew about these reserves before invading the country in 2001. After all, they did get rid of a regime that had controlled the heroine supply levels down to an unprecedented level and installed a puppet regime subservient to the American Generals.

The power circles in Afghanistan are claiming that they always knew of the resources lying in Afghanistan and there is nothing new in it that is found.

the problem will be bringing it to market safely in a country that is invariably stuck in the 12th century socially and politically. But corporate greed will overcome any obstacle, I'm sure.

One of the deposits that does not appear to be mentioned in the 2007release is lithium, which I understand is in abundant supply in Afghanistan. With the push for alternative energy, batteries will be/are in big demand, and lithium deposits will be worth a fortune. So perhaps they have found additional valuable resources that were not known in 07 which would justify a new press release.