Massive Afghanistan Lithium Deposit (As In Batteries) Could Alter Nation's Economy

A large mineral deposit worth an estimated $1 trillion has been discovered in Afghanistan, Pentagon officials revealed today. The find could change the nation's economy, alter the war, and contains vast amounts of lithium—found in many of today's batteries.

Better still, beyond batteries —rather unimportant when your country is war-torn Afghanistan‐are the numerous jobs that this find could create as it forms what could—stress could—be one of the world's largest mining operations.

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.

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.

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. - The New York Times

Huh. So how about that. From the arid nothingness of the Afghan countryside comes one of the most important mineral finds in recent memory.

Some restraint is necessary here, and U.S./Afghanistan officials are mindful of how factions like the Taliban might see the deposit as a power play. China also looms large, and U.S. officials, according to the New York Times, are wary that that nation might try and influence or even control the potentially massive mineral trade.

Oh, and there's little to no major manufacturing facilities in Afghanistan, which will make processing the lithium, iron, copper, cobalt, gold incredibly difficult. Um, and many of the minerals are also in areas of the country where fighting has been the most intense, like the south and east.

Still, good news is hard to find in Afghanistan these days, so I, for one, will attempt to remain positive that the plethora of "if's" that surround this bizarre breaking news will resolve peacefully. Is there really a choice? [New York Times Image: NYT]