The mineral wealth that hides the subsoil of Afghanistan

Afghanistan, which is now controlled by the Taliban, is a rich but very poor land. Indeed, the “moderate” declarations of Islamist fighters are part of the effort to ensure, alongside international recognition and development assistance.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said it is suspending lending to Afghanistan due to uncertainty over the country’s governance following the takeover of the Taliban, and the World Bank is now content to hastily withdraw its staff from the country. .

The IMF would have disbursed the last tranche of the $ 370 million loan program agreed on November 6, 2020.

The second tranche, worth $ 1

49.4 million, was issued in June. About $ 105.6 million remained under the credit program to support the Afghan economy, which has been tested beyond the war by the new coronavirus pandemic.Washington’s other financial institution, the World Bank, which has been involved in about 20 development projects in Afghanistan and has provided the country with about $ 5.3 billion since 2002, is unclear whether it will continue.

The percentage of people living below the poverty line in Afghanistan is 54.5 percent, living on less than $ 1.90 a day, according to the World Bank.

Yet things could be different, given that the country hides mineral riches in its subsoil whose value is estimated at 3 trillion. dollars at least. Perhaps for this still semi-feudal Afghanistan had to become a coveted geostrategic pawn in the rivalries of the then great powers.

But let’s see what exactly the Afghan underground hides, according to a detailed Reuters report.

Afghanistan is rich in copper, gold, oil, gas, uranium, bauxite, coal, iron, rare earths, lithium, chromium, lead, zinc, precious stones, sulfur, limestone, gypsum and marble.


According to a 2019 report from the Afghan Ministry of Minerals and Oil, the amount of copper the country hides is 30 million tons. An additional 28.5 million tons are estimated to lie in undiscovered porphyrite reserves, bringing the total estimated copper to 60 million tons, worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

A joint venture between China Metallurgical Corp of China (MCC) and Jiangxi Copper secured a 30-year license for the country’s largest copper project, Mes Aynak, in 2008. The field is still under development, but the 11.08 million tonnes of copper is valued at $ 100 billion by the MCC, based on current prices on the London Stock Exchange.

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The 2019 report states that Afghanistan has more than 2.2 billion tons of iron ore, worth $ 350 billion at current prices.

Sources of gold are estimated at 2,700 kilograms, worth $ 170 million, with the Afghan ministry saying base metals such as aluminum, tin, lead and zinc “are found in many parts of the country.”

Lithium and rare earths

A Pentagon staff member who helped compile the report described Afghanistan as “the Saudi Arabia of lithium” in 2010, meaning it could be vital to the global supply of battery metal, such as that of the Middle. East for crude oil. This memorandum was written at a time when lithium was widely used to make batteries for electrical appliances, but before it became clear how much lithium would be needed for electric vehicle batteries, which are expected to replace current gasoline vehicles as part of the efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The Ministry of Mining Wealth in its 2019 report states that Afghanistan has 1.4 million tons of rare earth minerals, a group of 17 rare minerals used in the manufacture of electronic products and military equipment.

Oil and gas

Bordered to the west by the hydrocarbon-rich countries of Iran and Turkmenistan, Afghanistan also has about 1.6 billion barrels of oil, 453 trillion. cubic meters of natural gas and another 500 million of liquefied natural gas. The value of crude oil is estimated at $ 107 billion at current prices.

Afghanistan has historically been an important source of lapis lazuli, a deep blue semi-precious stone that has been mined north of the country in the province of Badakhsan for thousands of years, as have other precious stones such as rubies and emeralds.

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