Afghan mineral wealth opens possibilities for investment: Krishna

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Kabul, July 20 (ANI): Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna on Tuesday said recent reports of Afghanistan's great mineral wealth opens up possibilities for both mining and investment by other countries.

Addressing an international conference on Afghanistan here, he, however, said that for Afghanistan to realize its full potential in these areas, its neighbours need to come together to forge greater regional cooperation and facilitate trade and transit.

"Growing economic inter-dependence will also help in weaning disaffected youth away from insurgency and militancy and in creating a zone of co-prosperity in the region. We support the wishes of the Government of Afghanistan to take the lead in this direction, Krishna said in an opening statement.

American military experts and geologists working with the Pentagon have pointed to Afghanistan having a trillion dollars worth of unearthed mineral deposits.

The discovery of the reported mineral wealth underground could transform Afghanistan from a war-torn economy dependent on narcotics trade to the wellspring of a new energy future.

Afghanistan's metal and mineral deposits-far from newfound-have been known and fantasized about for millennia. However, the ability to harvest the riches does not currently exist.

The Afghanistan Ministry of Mines reports on its website that the country has been known as a source of precious stones and minerals for thousands of years.

However, it was not until the 1800s that systematic attempts, first by the British and then the Geological Survey of India, were undertaken to assess the resources.

"From the 19th Century onwards, various geological expeditions investigated areas along the main caravan routes and later along the arterial motor roads," the ministry reports.

The minerals could transform Afghanistan into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the Americans believe.

An internal Pentagon memo states that Afghanistan could become the "Saudi Arabia of lithium," a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys.

A small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists discovered the vast scale of Afghanistan's mineral wealth.

While it could take many years to develop a mining industry, the potential is so great that officials and executives in the industry believe it could attract heavy investment even before mines are profitable, providing the possibility of jobs that could distract from generations of war. (ANI)

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