June 21st, 2010
07:52 AM ET

Minerals offer something new for Afghans to be known for

Matiullah Mati is a producer at CNN in Afghanistan. He writes about his and other Afghans' impressions on the announcement of the mineral wealth find. The opinions expressed in this guest blog are solely those of Matiullah Mati.

Since my birth in Afghanistan 31 years ago, all my friends and I ever heard was that Afghanistan is the fourth poorest country in the world.  Through that time, all we experienced was war, never anything else.  We did not know anything but war and dreamed of immigrating to other countries to make better lives. We had no idea our country and ourselves were sleeping on treasure.

For the first time last week, the majority of us heard about the vast mineral resources in our country, and we were shocked by the news. Suddenly we had renewed hopes and desires for  a new life.  

But still we are skeptical.  We are worried that corruption within our government will play a role.  Who will guarantee transparency in the exploration, processing and usage of these minerals?  And with the security situation, is it even possible?
On Thursday Afghanistan’s mining and industry minister, Wahidullah Shahrani, confirmed our country’s mineral reserves that he says is worth 3 trillion dollars.
He said the main challenge in mine exploration in areas such as the southern provinces will be security. But he said that as soon as people see the advantages of  mining — such as job creation and the improving economic situation for families and the country — subsequently, the Afghan people will take part in maintaining security themselves.
Shahrani added that the minerals found include copper, coal, gold and rare metals such as lithium which has more usage in electronic devices, including mobile phones and batteries. Not only were the rare minerals discovered, but also major oil and gas resources were found in the five different regions of the country as well.
The first ever survey of the mentioned minerals in Afghanistan started in 1888 by British geologists, and studies continued in the next century, by the U.S., Soviets and now the U.S. again.

War-torn Afghanistan is known as a safe haven for terrorists and a producer of 95 percent of the world’s narcotics. Maybe now it will have a better name. It may take years, but we hope to be known for something new and great.

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soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Mike

    All of these mineral talk, will international countries except the Chinese communist and other countries that has the proper business protocol of payoffs to both sides will be the benefactor. We just need to look at Africa where there are important strategic metals in war torn and corrupt governments, the Chinese communist are making a killing in mining for their own stockpile. Meanwhile in the West are so stupid in coming out with such thing as: blood minerals and metals as well as blood diamonds.
    Our government and those other western countries got to wake up and play their rile in order to get our hands on these precious strategic products and stop whinning.

    August 28, 2010 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  2. RSAT4

    Larry thats very interesting, training by killing them.

    June 25, 2010 at 1:58 am | Report abuse |
  3. Larry Valecia, Calif.

    We are training them so that they can take care of themselves!!!

    June 24, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |

    Now the afghans have a new problem, i.e 1st the USSR, 2ND Taliban, 3rd 9-11, 4th USA,5TH BOMBERS AND DRONES,6th OPIUM, 7th inocent civil casulties,and now it is LITHIUM. Please leave them alone,let them sort out this mess, they have done it before and can do it again. ALL the $s spent on war should be diverted to development. USA SHOULD STOP THROWING $ IN THE BIG BLACK H O L E.

    June 24, 2010 at 3:37 am | Report abuse |
  5. Hamed


    Hamed (Los Angeles)

    June 23, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. abiggervoice

    Onesmallvoice, what does the first amendment have to do with democracy? Are you under the impression that Americans invented democracy? Do you think the ancient Greeks had a bill of rights?

    June 22, 2010 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
  7. Smith in Oregon

    Things must be even worse in Marjah than I had previously thought, and I thought Gen. McChrystal's shake and bake Afghan troops and government was going badly in Marjah!

    This 'minerals in Afghanistan' scoop is simply a followup from Russian geologists that mapped Afghanistan during the time they invaded and occupied Afghanistan in the early 1980's. Found In 2001-2002, American geologists armed with overflight technical equipment (likely American taxpayer provided), simply followed the previous reports by the Russian geologists and added to them. This report was later compiled and released in 2004. And now it is surfacing? Right, it's no coincidence why there was a 6 year delay in releasing any thread bare positive story on Afghanistan. Things are falling apart in Marjah and in what is appearing to be the FAILED cookie cutter approach by Gen. McChrystal now being implemented in Kandahar.

    June 22, 2010 at 2:02 am | Report abuse |
  8. Daniel-2

    Now I guess that these minerals will make the United States,Great Britain and France even wealthier countries than they were before as the corporations exploit to their benefit while the Afghans become even poorer.So much for our exit strategy.

    June 21, 2010 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      It's quite obvious that the right-wing fanatics are in line with the aliens from outer space to get these minerals from Afghanistan. It's pretty common knowledge that Rush Limbaugh is behind everything.

      June 21, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • nick

      shut up, its impossible for afghanistan to get any poorer. they will get their fare share but larger countries make the initial investment in resources and equipment and training and manpower and assume the risk.

      June 22, 2010 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • oneshotal

      people have been sitting on the fact that afghanisnam had minerals for years. its just another ploy.

      June 23, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gopherit

      With the U.S. public becoming increasingly hostile to the U.S. attempt to conquer Afghanistan and with Karzai dependent upon the U.S. it was time for him to play his trump card which will appeal to the people who really determine U.S. policy, the Wall St. corporations. Karzai's first card play was his assertion that Afghanistan has $1 trillion in exploitable resources. When that didn't go far enough to accomplish his ends he now is playing his $3 trillion card. Of course, very little of his claim is actually verifiable. And the U.S. is likely to be "suckered" again.

      August 31, 2010 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |