Coba baca di sini. Sempat2nya pejabat Pentagon dan Ahli Geologi AS 
mengeksplorasi kekayaan alam Afghanistan di sana:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37677987/
Vast mineral deposits found in Afghanistan
Nearly $1 trillion in untapped resources could fundamentally alter economy
Tyler Hicks / The New York Times

By James Risen
updated 10:22 p.m. ET June 13, 2010

WASHINGTON - The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped 
mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and 
enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war 
itself, according to senior American government officials.

The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, 
gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so 
many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could 
eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the 
world, the United States officials believe.

An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become 
the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of 
batteries for laptops and Blackberries.
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The vast scale of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth was discovered by a small team 
of Pentagon officials and American geologists. The Afghan government and 
President Hamid Karzai were recently briefed, American officials said.

'Stunning potential'
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.

“There is stunning potential here,” Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the 
United States Central Command, said in an interview on Saturday. “There are a 
lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant.”

The value of the newly discovered mineral deposits dwarfs the size of 
Afghanistan’s existing war-bedraggled economy, which is based largely on opium 
production and narcotics trafficking as well as aid from the United States and 
other industrialized countries. Afghanistan’s gross domestic product is only 
about $12 billion.

“This will become the backbone of the Afghan economy,” said Jalil Jumriany, an 
adviser to the Afghan minister of mines.

American and Afghan officials agreed to discuss the mineral discoveries at a 
difficult moment in the war in Afghanistan. The American-led offensive in Marja 
in southern Afghanistan has achieved only limited gains. Meanwhile, charges of 
corruption and favoritism continue to plague the Karzai government, and Mr. 
Karzai seems increasingly embittered toward the White House.

So the Obama administration is hungry for some positive news to come out of 
Afghanistan. Yet the American officials also recognize that the mineral 
discoveries will almost certainly have a double-edged impact.

Corruption
Instead of bringing peace, the newfound mineral wealth could lead the Taliban 
to battle even more fiercely to regain control of the country.

The corruption that is already rampant in the Karzai government could also be 
amplified by the new wealth, particularly if a handful of well-connected 
oligarchs, some with personal ties to the president, gain control of the 
resources. Just last year, Afghanistan’s minister of mines was accused by 
American officials of accepting a $30 million bribe to award China the rights 
to develop its copper mine. The minister has since been replaced.

Endless fights could erupt between the central government in Kabul and 
provincial and tribal leaders in mineral-rich districts. Afghanistan has a 
national mining law, written with the help of advisers from the World Bank, but 
it has never faced a serious challenge.

“No one has tested that law; no one knows how it will stand up in a fight 
between the central government and the provinces,” observed Paul A. Brinkley, 
undersecretary of defense and leader of the Pentagon team that discovered the 
deposits.

At the same time, American officials fear resource-hungry China will try to 
dominate the development of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth, which could upset the 
United States, given its heavy investment in the region. After winning the bid 
for its Aynak copper mine in Logar Province, China clearly wants more, American 
officials said.

Another complication is that because Afghanistan has never had much heavy 
industry before, it has little or no history of environmental protection 
either. “The big question is, can this be developed in a responsible way, in a 
way that is environmentally and socially responsible?” Mr. Brinkley said. “No 
one knows how this will work.”

With virtually no mining industry or infrastructure in place today, it will 
take decades for Afghanistan to exploit its mineral wealth fully. “This is a 
country that has no mining culture,” said Jack Medlin, a geologist in the 
United States Geological Survey’s international affairs program. “They’ve had 
some small artisanal mines, but now there could be some very, very large mines 
that will require more than just a gold pan.”

The mineral deposits are scattered throughout the country, including in the 
southern and eastern regions along the border with Pakistan that have had some 
of the most intense combat in the American-led war against the Taliban 
insurgency.

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