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News and Views

Mineral wealth seen as big plus
By Rachel Kaufman

Washington Times


A three-year study has found vast mineral resources in Afghanistan, boosting hopes for an early economic recovery in the insurgency-troubled country, a survey says.

The survey, conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Afghanistan Geological Survey, found enough copper to meet world needs for three years and enough cobalt to supply the world for a decade, Bill Werkheiser, the associate director for geology at the USGS said earlier this week.

"Afghanistan is blessed with a wealth of mineral resources," said Mr. Werkheiser.

He said the survey, conducted from 2004 to 2007, had turned up a total of 31 metal, industrial mineral and building material deposits including rubies, emeralds, sapphires and other gemstones.

"Afghanistan's natural resources have a quality comparable to the highest-class minerals of the entire region," said Said Jawad, Afghanistan's ambassador to the United States.

Members of the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce and U.S. Agency for International Development are hoping foreign businesses will be influenced by this discovery and invest in Afghanistan.

"I can guarantee you there will be more ... investing in Afghanistan, and there will be a sustained commitment on behalf of the U.S. government to continue to create and support the conditions of private sector growth in Afghanistan," said James Kunder, the acting deputy administrator of AID.

AID is "deeply committed to sustain economic progress in Afghanistan," he said at conference Tuesday, arguing that investors should not be frightened off by press reports of violence and drug dealing in the country.

"The violence and the extreme cruelty of that extreme group of terrorists affecting Afghanistan is disproportionate to their actual impact on the business climate," he said.

He added that only 5 percent of agriculture workers in Afghanistan have anything to do with the production or sale of opium poppies.

"There are numerous opportunities, despite the occasional violent terrorist attack, to do business in Afghanistan," Mr. Kunder said.

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