Significant Potential for Undiscovered Resources in Afghanistan

Press Release / November 13, 2007
Source: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey

Afghanistan has significant amounts of undiscovered non-fuel mineral resources according to the U.S. Geological Survey's 2007 assessment, unveiled today at the 3rd annual U.S.-Afghan Business Matchmaking Conference organized by the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.

Mineral resources present a great source for a country's industrial growth and wealth. Estimates for copper and iron ore resources were found to have the most potential for extraction in Afghanistan. Scientists also found indications of abundant deposits of colored stones and gemstones, including emerald, ruby, sapphire, garnet, lapis, kunzite, spinel, tourmaline and peridot. Other examples of mineral resources available for extraction in Afghanistan include gold, mercury, sulfur, chromite, talc-magnesite, potash, graphite and sand and gravel.

USGS scientists worked cooperatively with the Afghanistan Geological Survey of the Afghanistan Ministry of Mines, between 2004 and 2007, to compile existing information about known mineral deposits and evaluate the possible occurrence of undiscovered deposits of non-fuel mineral resources. This assessment will be used in rebuilding Afghanistan's natural resources sector, provide valuable new information to the global business and mining communities, and serve as a foundation for future work on areas of mineral resource potential.

"Mineral resource assessments provide government decision-makers and potential private investors with objective, unbiased information on where undiscovered mineral resources may be located, what kinds of resources are likely to occur and how much of each mineral commodity may exist in them," said USGS Director Mark Myers.

"Afghanistan's natural resources have a quality comparable to the highest-class minerals of the entire region," said Afghanistan's Ambassador to the United States Said T. Jawad. "We are grateful to the efforts of the USGS and our Ministry of Mines in allowing global investors an opportunity to receive the latest information on their assessment for more informed business decisions."

The majority of information on Afghanistan's mineral resources was produced between the early 1950s and about 1985. However, during the intermittent conflict over the next two decades, much of that data was hidden and protected by Afghan scientists. After 2001, this valuable data was returned to the Afghan government, and the USGS gathered new data and identified additional information in locations outside of Afghanistan.

The USGS has also been working with the government of Afghanistan since 2003 to provide an earthquake hazards assessment, released on May 30, 2007, and an oil and gas resources assessment of the nation issued in March 2006. A major objective of these assessments has been training of Afghan geoscientists in the collection and interpretation of relevant data.

The USGS was commissioned by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to develop this assessment. Results of the 2007 preliminary assessment of non-fuel mineral resources of Afghanistan are available at the USGS Afghanistan Web site, http://afghanistan.cr.usgs.gov, and at the Afghanistan Geological Survey Web site, http://www.bgs.ac.uk/afghanminerals/

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