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Afghanistan Becomes First Country To Have Minerals Mapped

The U.S. Geographical Survey has now mapped some 70 percent of Afghanistan's mineral wealth.
The U.S. Geographical Survey has now mapped some 70 percent of Afghanistan's mineral wealth.
Afghanistan has become the first country in the world to have its surface minerals mapped from the air.

The U.S. Geographical Survey (USGS) mapped some 70 percent of the country using an advanced technique known as “hyperspectral imaging,” which involves using a camera to capture sunlight reflected from the ground.

Specific colors on the mineral map reflect different natural minerals as well as man-made minerals, vegetation, and snow.

USGS spokesman Alex Demas maintains that the map will make it easier to identify and estimate mineral deposits for international mining companies looking to invest in Afghanistan, which is known to have vast reserves of oil, gas, copper, cobalt, gold, and lithium.

“This imagery allows us to identify with very good accuracy where certain types of materials are," he says. "And this is very useful, especially for the mining industry. In fact, the USGS and the Afghan Geological Survey have already identified, using this information, 24 areas of high-profile mining interests.”

Demas adds the survey did not include regions inside Afghanistan that bordered its neighbors—Iran, Pakistan, China, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan-- in order to avoid any concerns over airspace. 

International mining companies have made huge investments in Afghan mining in recent years.

In 2008, the China Metallurgical Group Corporation made a successful bid of $3 billion for mineral rights to the Mes Aynak site, which geologists believe has the second-largest copper reserves in the world.

That was followed by a bid from a group of Indian companies in 2011, when a deal was signed to begin mining Hajigak, the country’s largest iron ore deposit, located in the central Bamiyan Province.

The numbers being used to describe Afghanistan's potential wealth are staggering.

In 2010, the Afghan Ministry of Mines estimated that the country’s reserves could amount to some one trillion dollars.

According to Demas, from the data the USGS has received, the minerals that have been discovered by the mineral map seem to be the real deal.

“We do believe these to be world-class mineral deposits," he says. "We don’t know for certain what the tonnage of mineral ore will be. We won’t know for sure, though, until a company actually goers there and develops it.”

The USGS gathered the data over the space of 43 days from aircrafts travelling at a height of 15,000 meters.

The project was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations as well as by the Afghan government.

-- Frud Bezhan
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Comments
     
by: Noel Abdullah from: USA
July 20, 2012 14:32
Sadly I feel this is a prelude to the theft of these assests for pennies on the true worth.Capitalists never invest without hope of return.I have seen photos of Ghor Province the copper is so heavy the soil takes a bluish colour.A basic fire and Smelt would allow a high grade ore to be mined.....I pray these mines help the common Afghan and not a faceless company in a far away land...
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
July 20, 2012 22:22
Capitalism and Socialism are two sides of the same coin.

One is greedy in ranks of rich and powerfull elit of Norman bandits,
breeded with Prussians and Babilonian snakes in the West,
Socialists call their conspiracy "Anarchy of greed".

Another is greedy in ranks of powerfull gang of Varanga bandits,
breeded with Prussians and Babilonian snakes in the East,
Capitalists call their conspiracy "communist", or just
bloody Russians.

My point is, after one was corrupted by another again, since
Russians smear Stalin and Parliament of Nations, all moral
principals going to be lost.

Russians unleashed genocide in Afghanistan, than smaller
version in Georgia and Chechnia and expanding.

Corrupted by them USA got excited and killed in Iraq 200,000
in two days, civilians and desarmed soldiers, returning home.

Now they both deteriating morally and go after freedom of the speech - Russians continue kill rights activists and long hand
of Moscow killing in the West too.
They organized through American agencies assassinations of me and my mother.
They killed my mother 7/7/2012 in a hospital.
I am left alone.

The World is evil - devil and antichrist taking over.
Now it makes it hard on everybody, including Afghanistan.

Still, Afghans can become a normal country economicly, using
also mineral resources, without losing humanity - why not?
Not only USA would invest - larger bidder, so far is China.
Do not simplify it - mining equipment, investments and specialists
cost money - as long as Afghanistan and developing it countries
get fear shears.
It isn't in USA interests betray and suck Afghanistan, unless someone will corrupt them to kill Afghanistan motherload
of minerals as they killed my mother and killing me...
In Response

by: Johan Poonhammer from: Afghanistan
July 23, 2012 23:35
Why invest in anything, if there's no "hope of return"? Afghanistan may have a wealth of minerals, but the Afghan people have no way of mining them, refining them, or getting them to market. They have two choices: Let them lie in the ground, or sell them to Capitalists. With the first choice, nobody wins, and Afghanistan continues to dwell in the 7th Century. With the second choice, at least there's a chance that both the Afghan people and the "faceless" companies that buy them, will profit.
In Response

by: AMUS from: CANADA
August 02, 2012 14:01
I would have to agree with you. Afghans don't have the resources to do it themselves and the amount of greed ppl or at least ppl in charge have there is beyond imaginations and to some extent these faceless companies are reasons for it. I say let these companies come in and rebuild. How long long are they going to keep destroying the country.

by: Windy Bagram from: Bagram Afghanistan
July 23, 2012 09:23
The world is not evil. But it is full of stupid people. First the Afghanistan allows China, who has done nothing for the country of Afghanistan, to buy it's mineral rights. That is dumb greed. Then the U.S. maps out these minerals for the Chinese. America should have been paid royalties by the Chinese.

Have a peaceful Ramadan.

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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