Vast deposits of iron, copper, gold, and lithium have been discovered throughout Afghanistan by US geologists, a find estimated to be worth $1 trillion. The discovery of such huge natural resources could turn Afghanistan into one of the world's most important mining centers—and could have a profound impact on a country whose economy is based largely on illicit opium production and foreign aid, reports the New York Times.
Afghanistan, a country with no mining industry or infrastructure, could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” according to a Pentagon memo, and international competition for mining rights was strong even before the discovery was announced: China is seen as a major player and is accused of making a $30 million bribe to obtain contracts last year. The potential wealth could also prove a powerful incentive for the Taliban to continue fighting for regional control. Read the full article. (Read more Afghanistan stories.)