Something else to fight about: big piles of lithium in Afghanistan -

Something else to fight about: big piles of lithium in Afghanistan


So the Pentagon has figured out that Afghanistan sits on extreme untapped mineral wealth, including lithium used to make laptops and Blackberrys. Not necessarily good news. As the Times points out:

“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.”

Afterall, those diamonds didn’t work out so well for Liberia, Sierra Leone, et al.

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Something else to fight about: big piles of lithium in Afghanistan

  1. Just what Afghanistan needs, a resource trap!

  2. Ms. Savage,

    There is simply no comparison betweeen diamonds in Liberia and Sierra Leone and lithium in Afghanistan. To explain: diamonds (at least shallow diamonds like those found in Liberia) are relatively easy to mine and when mined come out in their pure, refined form. That is to say if you move the dirt the diamond (uncut) appears as a whole item which has immediate value and can be bartered.

    Lithium and others rare earth metals do not appear in that form. They appear in the parts per million concentration in otherwise solid rock. In order to obtain the mineral you need to mine the rock, move the raw ore to a processing facility, process the raw ore and ultimately smelt it so that you have material in a form that can be further refined and sold. The entire operation is dependent on huge amounts of capital and reuqires large amounts of energy, as such it cannot be effectively carried out by mom and pop groups.

    It requires a level of infrastructure including roads, rail lines and power (lots of power) all features Afghanistan is desperately short of at this time.

    • Perhaps a more apt comparison would be with oil, which has not really served the people of Nigeria well. The production of lithium may require more infrastructure, but this just means that government would be involved and with a corrupt government the goods may still only contribute to further crime and violence.

  3. This find has nothing to do with Afghanistan. It's simply a way to finance the country so that the West can get out ASAP. Of course the wealth produced will fall into the wrong hands. It'll probably even be used to finance attacks on the West in the future. Unfortunately, nobody there gives a damn about that anymore.