The U.S. military plans to loot Afghan mineral deposits for some time. A 2007 Pentagon memo that the New York Times quoted in a 2010 article says that Afghanistan could be the “Saudi Arabia of lithium.”
The Companies of United States are planning to extract Afghanistan’s enormous reserves of valuable rare earth minerals, Reuters reported after U.S. President Donald Trump met with his Afghan counterpart Ashraf Ghani on Thursday.
Afghanistan has some of the world’s largest un-extracted reserves of rare earth minerals valuable in electronic production, such as lithium, as well as gold and various gemstones. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates the total value at least US$1 trillion.
According to a White House statement, the presidents agreed that the development of Afghan minerals by U.S. companies would “develop materials critical to national security,” as well as “defray some of the costs of United States assistance as Afghans become more self-reliant.”
The Presidents of the United States and Afghanistan reportedly discussed difficulties facing the project, such as the growing Taliban’s control in regions containing the majority of the minerals. They both expressed commitment to Trump’s new Afghanistan strategy, which, against what he promised in the election campaign, involves keeping U.S. military forces in the country for an indefinite period of time.
Afghanistan has a vast untouched wealth of minerals, including lithium, the silvery metal used in smartphone and computer batteries considered essential to modern life. Afghanistan also has extensive oil reserves, with a new oil field having been discovered as recently as 2010. US General David Petraeus said there is stunning potential in Afghanistan.
Some analysts believe that a push for greater U.S. presence in Afghan mineral extraction could be a way of stopping the influence of China.
China, along with Russia and Iran gaining greater regional influence, economic activities in the region are no longer the sole domain of U.S.-based companies.
China and Afghanistan have already cooperated to an extent in the extraction of minerals in Afghanistan and China have made the country a center-point of its planned Belt and Road initiative, which seeks to commercially link Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.