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Minerals Provide Economic Potential for Afghanistan

As Afghanistan works to lay the foundations for a strong economy that can help spark the country's development, the mineral sector is proving to have substantial potential for the future.

In May 2008, Afghanistan announced that it had signed a 30-year deal with Chinese state-owned Metallurgical Group Corporation (MCG) for the right to explore and mine the coveted Aynak copper deposit in the eastern province of Logar. The mine is estimated to contain 11.3 million tons of copper and would yield over $400 million in annual taxes to Afghanistan.

More recently, in July 2008 Afghanistan announced that mining would begin next year in the Hajigag iron mines located in the central province of Bamiyan, creating 50,000 new jobs and providing the country with $3 billion in revenue per year. Additionally, Minister of Mines Ibrahim Adil announced that the government had discovered mines in central Afghanistan - including coal and iron - worth over $300 billion.

Between 2004 and 2007 Afghanistan's Ministry of Mines and the Afghanistan Geological Survey worked with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to compile information on existing mineral deposits and evaluate the possible occurrence of undiscovered deposits of non-fuel mineral resources. The assessment, which was released in October 2007, found that Afghanistan has substantial deposits of both coal and iron and sufficient amounts of colored stones and gemstones, including emerald, ruby, sapphire, garnet, lapis, kunzite, spinel, tourmaline, and peridot deposits. Other examples of mineral resources available for extraction in Afghanistan include gold, mercury, sulfur, chromite, talc-magnesite, potash, graphite, and sand and gravel. More recent work by USGS has included airborne magnetic surveys to document the distribution and relative abundance of magnetic minerals in rocks.

On July 11, 2008 the Ministry of Mines announced a number of opportunities for investors in Afghanistan's growing mines sector. Bidding has been opened on five mines. More information can be found here or by emailing mmiafg (at) gmail (dot) com.

Related: USGS Projects in Afghanistan

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