The Washington Quarterly
The 20th century was the era of black gold; the 21st will
undoubtedly be the era of metals
In 2010, a team of Pentagon officials and American geologists uncovered Afghanistan’s best kept secret: a plethora of mining resources such as lithium, copper, cobalt—including 1.4 million metric tons of rare-earth elements, estimated to be worth more than $1 trillion, all of them essential to modern industry.
After this development, Afghanistan, according to The New York Times, rapidly became heralded as a country which could “be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world.” More than a decade later, however, US forces filing out of Afghanistan were leaving these resources untapped, attracting the interest of neighboring nations.