Are Afghanistan’s Mineral Deposits the Answer to the Country’s Economic Woes? – by Tamim Asey (Global Security Review – December 31, 2018)

Global Security Review

Afghanistan’s mineral deposits are a potential glimmer of hope for the country’s suffering economy.

As it stands, a mineral-based economy is one of the few options available when it comes to establishing a solid foundation on which to develop Afghanistan’s economy. The development of the country’s mineral sector has been hampered by insecurity, political instability, poor policy direction, the absence of a basic legal framework, and a lack of necessary infrastructure and transit agreements with neighboring countries.

However, Afghanistan’s mineral deposits present an alternative to the country’s increasing over-reliance on an economy dependent on foreign aid. Afghanistan’s mineral deposits consist of metals and non-metals. Many strategically essential minerals can be found in the country, including beryllium (used in airplanes, helicopters, ships, missiles, and spacecraft), uranium, lithium, and niobium (a rare soft-metal use in semiconductor production).

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), Afghanistan’s mineral wealth is estimated at around (US) $1 trillion. This figure is based on previously conducted Swedish, British, and Soviet geological surveys, in addition to more recent studies performed by the USGS. In total, however, only about 30% of Afghanistan’s territory was covered by previous geological surveys.

Even though the earlier Swedish, British, and Soviet studies have been updated with more recent aerial geophysical and geochemical studies, a complete geological survey is required to understand the full potential of Afghanistan’s mineral deposits.

Existing data only accounts for 30% of the country, and isn’t comprehensive enough to confidently estimate the value and depth of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth. Furthermore, a complete geological study of Afghanistan would enable for a more accurate determination of the economic feasibility of developing the country’s mineral extraction and distribution capabilities. In other words, all that is known from existing geological surveys is that there are signs of what could be a substantial presence of minerals elsewhere in the country, but the details of specific deposits remain unknown.

For the rest of this article:

Comments are closed.