Monday, June 14, 2010

Afghanistan Might Have Massive Lithium Reserves - Potential Mineral Riches

While Bolivia is known to have a significant part of the lithium reserves in the world, this might change drastically.  The Afghan government recently announced that American geologists found "huge lithium deposits amounts" in Afghanistan's Ghazni province.  These new discoveries are part of a survey that has found large deposits of key exportable minerals including zinc, gold, and copper in the country.  Large parts of it are in conflicted areas.     Apparently decades of conflict prevented this kind of wide-ranging survey, though many Afghan geologists have known of mineral riches and kept it quiet due to the political situation.

The New York Times reported the $1 trillion figure in Monday's edition and quoted senior American officials as saying untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan are far beyond any previously known reserves and were enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself.
Americans discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, including iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium, according to the report. The Times quoted a Pentagon memo as saying Afghanistan could become the "Saudi Arabia of lithium," a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and cell phones.

 Then there is this quote from the New York Times article specifically talking about the Lithium
Just this month, American geologists working with the Pentagon team have been conducting ground surveys on dry salt lakes in western Afghanistan where they believe there are large deposits of lithium. Pentagon officials said that their initial analysis at one location in Ghazni Province showed the potential for lithium deposits as large of those of Bolivia, which now has the world’s largest known lithium reserves.

The Lithium part should wake up not only Bolivia, but also Chile and Argentina, because a sizeable deposit of Lithium in Afghanistan, could mean rapid exploitation and export of an alternative to South American lithium.   The weight of the U.S. and the Afghan desire for revenue and development, can mean that even in a conflicted area, resources could be brought to bear in developing the industry.  


Bolivia's government has said its plans for lithium development are "not affected" by news of the Afghan lithium.   The Presidency's official spokesman said, "Afghanistan is a country practically at war" - actually an understatement.   With atypical restraint the official continued that he was not sure how easy it would be to "resolve" the conflict issue in Afghanistan, implying it is not a problem for Bolivia.