The Saudi Arabia of lithium
A recently unearthed 2007 study by the US Geological Survey appears to have discovered nearly USD 1 trillion in mineral deposits – iron, copper, cobalt, gold and important industrial metals such as lithium – in Afghanistan.
An internal Pentagon memo states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and smartphones. The deposits are supposedly so large that the find could transform war-ravaged Afghanistan into one of the most important mining centres in the world.
However, the many obstacles to development include investment and security risks, lack of infrastructure, rampant corruption, the presence of the Taliban and conflicts among tribal leaders.
According to the memo, a Pentagon task force is trying to help the Afghans set up a system to deal with mineral development with a view to start seeking bids on mineral rights before the end of 2014.