15 Jun 2010

Rich mineral deposits found in Afghanistan

10:18 am on 15 June 2010

A team of American geologists has reportedly discovered rich mineral deposits in Afghanistan

A spokesperson for the Afghan government, Javid Omar, says the deposits could end the country's dependency on foreign aid.

A joint team from the Pentagon, US Geological Service and USAID has calculated that the deposits are worth at least $US900 billion.

Geological surveys discovered large quantities of iron and copper as well as valuable deposits of lithium - an increasingly vital resource, used in batteries for everything from mobile phones to laptops and key to the future of the electric car.

Afghanistan also has significant reserves of niobium, a key ingredient in hardened steel.

Timing may be significant

But questions are being asked about the timing of the release of information, the BBC reports.

The details of the Geological Service survey were first released in 2007, and the US assessment of the worth of the deposits was completed in December last year.

The BBC's correspondent says that at a time of growing despair about Afghanistan and its government, the portrayal of the country as a potential goldmine could help to bolster international resolve and paint the country as a prize worth fighting for.