August 25th, 2010
10:16 AM ET

Hopes, fears over trillion dollar minerals

Kalu, Afghanistan — In September, the government of Afghanistan will offer up a contract for mining rights in Bamyan Province about 80 miles outside of Kabul, hoping to attract international companies. Based on Soviet studies from teh 1960s, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates the potential value of Afghanistan's mineral wealth at a trillion dollars. The Afghan minister of mines says it could be as much as $3 trillion. But a lack of security and lack of infrastructure may hinder any progress.

Near the Hajigak Iron Ore Deposit, the villagers hope that development, if it comes, will bring jobs and money. But can the government assue the village elder that corruption won't siphon off the potential benefits to his people? The government promises everything will be public and transparent. The Afghans here hope that is true.

More: Minerals offer something new for Afghans to be known for
More: Why all the talk about minerals now?

Filed under: Life and Culture
soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. appliance repair Fountain Valley

    Zoete website, had ik niet tegengekomen uw blog in mijn zoekopdrachten! Carry op het fantastische werk!

    April 27, 2011 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
  2. Matt McHugh

    It's pretty tough to argue we went into Afghanistan - or continue to build our presence there - with any designs on direct economic gain. Even now, the country's instability makes mining contracts pretty risky investments.

    August 31, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. trillian

    We want the minerals and the strategic value. That's why we're over there, that's why it has been going on so long. Soon this war will break Vietnam's record of 10 years. Then it will be the longest war in U.S. history.

    August 30, 2010 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tom

    Crime against humanity and genocide planned and commited by usa and european to rob this Afghanistan. It is much worse than hitlerite crime against humanity.

    August 30, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. skulker

    For all we've done and all we spent in Afghanistan the US should get the mining contract.

    August 30, 2010 at 2:44 am | Report abuse |
  6. sdgman

    Good for them. I hope it doesn't go the way it usually does, and all the benefits of these riches go to the people, rather than a select few.

    August 29, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. qwqwwq

    "...promises everything will be public and transparent"? Why not, first time for everything.

    August 29, 2010 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  8. info

    Blood computers, blood cell phones, blood batteries...

    August 28, 2010 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • info

      August 28, 2010 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
      • info

        I never bought a diamond because I knew about blood diamonds when I was very young. I would choose to go without a computer or cell phone as well.

        August 28, 2010 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. alan

    The Chinese got the Copper mine agreement out from under us already. While we negotiated the Chinese bribed there way to success.

    August 28, 2010 at 5:51 am | Report abuse |
  10. tea party

    mineral rights should go to the victors goes the spoils...Filthy paki hindu taliban deserve nothing ..

    August 27, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Smith in Oregon

      Yes, a sane individual would certainly think and feel the vast mineral rights would go to America who sacrificed so many Americans lives, blood sweat and tears in Iraq and Afghanistan. However Bush jr. GAVE Iraq's Oil field leases worth multi-Trillions of dollars to CHINA for pennies. SAME with Afghanistan's Copper deposits to CHINA for pennies. Bush jr. is either totally insane or completely corrupt. Perhaps BOTH.

      August 28, 2010 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jerry

      Why is that,tea party?It's the NATO invaders who deserve nothing,the........Since I don't like Tea Party lingo,I'll leave it at that.

      August 30, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. desert voice

    Afghanistan can choose a future of peace and prosperity, or the perennial torments of sharia under the Taliban. President Karzai should be able to explain this difference to the people in their own language!

    August 27, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Smith in Oregon

      Pakistan is actively working to undermine the Hamid Karzai existing Afghanistan government whom they feel is tolerate of the Indian backed Pushtun clans. As long as Pakistan continues to pour Taliban and Suicide bombers into Afghanistan to destroy the Karzai government, Afghanistan is not going to have peace. AMERICA and AMERICANS need to start questioning their representatives and administration officials WHY America's CIA is actively backing Pakistan who is a sworn enemy of India and is actively working to prevent India's influence in Afghanistan including the construction and implementation of the Trans-Afghanistan natural gas Pipeline to carry natural gas to New Delhi, India which would bring prosperity to the Afghanistan people. WHY is America's CIA helping Pakistan to prevent TAP and to undermine the Karzai Government? The American CIA are working for both sides of this conflict and appear to be actively engaged in TREASONOUS activity's with the Pakistani ISI.

      August 28, 2010 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
      • bangash

        Smith in Oregon I request your attention to the history of Great Game of the West on Afghan soil. Same game still continue, aimed at containing communism. Afghanistan and Pakistan have never lived as independent states. Yesterday British, today USA have imposed their compliant rulers and have always used its soil, resources and people in their war for extension in world empire. Blaming Pakistan for prevailing catastrophic situation is in fact an attempt to hide the real culprits behind the destruction of Afghanistan and Pakistan. We both states, in fact, are victims in the war of the big one of the world. We both states, three decades back, despite extreme poverty, ignorance and backwardness, had an ideal peace as we had no weapons or money to spend on our border disputes but US Pentagon, against the wishes of Pakistan public, utilized few Pakistani Military Generals, and made Afghanistan a war front against ex USSR. Same game still continue and we both states continue to suffer at the hand of USA. For us OSAMA and OBAMA are two faces of same coin as both of them are shedding our blood either in the name of Jehad or the war on terror.

        August 30, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  12. dave

    I still think a lot of people that post on here need to take off their tin foil hats and weigh the actual facts, rather than the crap that gets cranked out by uneducated individuals attempting to sound "well informed"

    August 27, 2010 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  13. jmiddy

    Do you think maybe just maybe the US has sold out Afghan minerals to the Chinese to get back some of the paper greenbacks China is holding! Whom needs that stuff more the Chinese of course, spilled with American and Coalition blood!

    August 27, 2010 at 6:57 am | Report abuse |
    • tea party

      jmiddy, you nailed it. Chinese million man army(filthy hindu ) sit fat no fight work in factory sell to us while brave young Americans spill blood in Afganistan....God is blessing china with american jobs and wealth...

      August 27, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
      • jason

        Is it that the Chinese are smart or that we Americans have become too fat and lazy. No offense, but really have any of you been to Singapore or any asian city. Heres an example of why "were" over payed. One crane operator can unload four ships in Singapore using a computerized system. He gets paid less of course, but then again his cost of living isnt as high as ours is either. You go to LA or honolulu port and you have five people unloading one ship. Thye make 30-40$ an hour and get paid major cash if they work over 8 hours. Before 2008 a GM worker would make 25-30$ an hour building a car in detroit, where a Honda/Toyota worker in the southern states would get paid 12-17$, and you wou were almost guarnteed to get a better product. And really, people working at WalMart are complaining that they are not being paid a "living wage". Thats like saying I am going to pay the guy working a cash register at the local 7-11 $20 an hour. We as a nation have gotten so used to working forty hours a week and getting paid big bucks for basically doing a very unskilled job. Most Americans forget that our grand parents and great grand parents often worked 100 hours + a week making crap.

        August 29, 2010 at 6:27 am | Report abuse |
  14. Zeitgeist

    I know everybody is all incensed over people having different opinions from one another in the comments section, but seriously, nobody caught "Based on Soviet studies from teh 1960s" or "assue the village elder" before this went up? I know it's the Blogs section, but I still kind of expect better QC than this from CNN.

    August 27, 2010 at 6:34 am | Report abuse |
  15. mike d

    It would take years and a lot of investment from the u.s and (other countries also) to mine it and make it benefit the afgans people.

    August 26, 2010 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Smith in Oregon

      mike d, about 14 days of negotiations between Chinese envoys, Bush jr. envoys, and Hamid Karzai for the immense Afghanistan Copper deposits Lease contract to be given to China for pennies. I suspect the same has already occurred between the same party's for Afghanistan's Lithium deposits as well.

      Why has this mineral issue in Afghanistan suddenly placed on the table after a near 5 years of hiatus? Folks think this is all current news and such. It was current some FIVE years ago. Is the attempt to slowly break it to the public that CHINA now owns those Afghanistan leases? OR, is the Afghanistan War going so badly that anything remotely positive is dusted off even if it is FIVE years ago and placed into circulation?

      August 27, 2010 at 3:12 am | Report abuse |
  16. Smith in Oregon

    Why is America's CIA preventing Afghanistan from building the Trans-Afghanistan natural gas Pipeline carrying natural gas to New Delhi, India? Just as in Alaska, the Afghanistan people could directly receive some of the annual lease payments. The poor and improvised Afghanistan people would be more able and capable of shifting away from it's Opium based agriculture and shipping natural gas is a entirely peaceful and beneficial service.

    Is America's CIA so blinded by it's corrupt relationship with Pakistan and the Pakistani ISI that America's CIA interests now are entirely contrary to those of America's elected Government who values India as an important ally?

    August 26, 2010 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Walt

    Hmm. Imagine Afghanistan with billions upon billions to spend on weapons of mass destruction.

    August 26, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  18. thething


    August 26, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Iraq Paramedic

    Smith in Oregon; WOW, China, where on earth or who on earth told you that. China has been in & out of Afghanistan for millinium. They are the biggest heroin dealers on the planet. Please don't accuse the only president in the last 50years that accually had the balls to go after these terrorists instead of pay them like you democracts, of pushing under handed deals. Bush Jr. was more transparent than Clinton or this yoyo ya'll have in office now. Please go back to your nancy drew mistery novels.
    May GOD Bless & keep us all !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 26, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

      Well said, Iraq Paramedic!

      August 26, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bledsoe

      You got that wrong,Iraq Paramedic! It's Great Britain,not China that's the biggest heroin dealer on the planet.It was also Great Britain that introduced the heroin trade in China some 200 years ago which culminated in the two Opium Wars(1839-1842) and (1857-1858) both of which Great Britain won.

      August 26, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
      • Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

        Very well put,Bledsoe. I didn't know that! Thank you.

        August 26, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
      • Response to Daniel-2

        Yes you did Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever... you posted the comment in the first place. Give it a rest will you.

        August 29, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Smith in Oregon

      After more than Four Thousand American's gave their lives and hundreds of thousands of American Soldiers and their family's gave their Blood, Sweat, Tears and American taxpayers gave nearly 1 Trillion taxpayer dollars, the allegedly depraved and utterly corrupt Republican former President Bush jr. GAVE CHINA multi-Trillion dollar Iraqi Oil field leases for mere pennies. That outcome was likely already agreed to when Bush jr. approached China for 900 Billion dollar loans for the Iraqi War. China got Hundreds of Billions of American taxpayer dollars in interest on top of their 900 Billion dollar loan PLUS Oil Field leases worth multi-Trillions of dollars. The American people that gave everything got HOSED. No sane American lawmaker would make such a one-sided agreement and arrangement with CHINA. Either former President Bush jr. is completely Insane or he is utterly and completely Corrupt.

      August 26, 2010 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
  20. realworld

    We have hopes we'll get some of it. Halliburton has fears they won't.

    August 25, 2010 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Smith in Oregon

    What? Bush jr. already gave Afghanistan's large copper deposit leases to CHINA for pennys. Already public knowledge. It is highly likely Bush jr. already gave Afghanistan's large lithium deposit leases also to CHINA for pennys but that has not yet been made public, my guess it would demoralize the American troops wondering why America is still in Afghanistan.

    Leaving? Propaganda eagerly consumed by News Media in the West anxious for anything remotely 'good' regarding the failed strategy and war in Afghanistan. America's CIA and Pakistan's ISI are actively preventing the trans-Afghanistan natural Pipeline from being built across Afghanistan and delivering Natural Gas to New Delhi, India. The TAP project and completion would undoubtedly reward Afghanistan citizens yearly from the leasing contract much as Alaskan residents are given a percentage of the lease costs every year. Good news for the absolutely poor Afghanistan right? Then why is America's CIA bocking it when it would obviously be 'peaceful' and beneficial?

    August 25, 2010 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
  22. PJ

    Yeah, right! We need Wikileaks to find out about American War Crimes and how badly the wars have been conducted on the U.S. side. Transparency on the AFGHAN side?! HA! I'm rolling. We need to get out of this god forsaken snake pit now. Not one more drop of blood or dollar wasted on this dump. If it gets out of control – do what we should have done right after 9/11 if Coward Bush hadn't been in charge- nuke it. ALL of it.

    August 25, 2010 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bledsoe

      Yeah, as if that would happen. Because democrat presidents are renown for utilizing a "big stick", right? Because Bill Clinton was sooooo successful in combating al Qaeda and finding bin Laden.
      My goat, how many stupid people are there with keyboards???

      August 26, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
      • Bledsoe

        You ought to know,since you're one of them!!! I guess that you will continue to spew your ignorance under my name,won't you???

        August 26, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Jimmy

    The villages should just demand a "take in kind" provision in the lease and just literally sell the stuff as it comes out of the mine. It'd be arguably less efficient but somewhat more transparent.

    August 25, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  24. DonnyB

    whoops, that should have been trillion where I said billion, and billions where I said millions!
    I slipped three digits!

    August 25, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  25. DonnyB

    $3 billion in potential value, sure. Gross. But how many hundred of millions of development capital, and operating expenses? Do you want to invest in Afghanistan?

    August 25, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Jerry

    Now with thse "recently discovered" minerals,I wonder if we'll ever leave Afghanistan.I somehow doubt it.The Russians were motivated by their ideology,whereas the NATO forces are motivated by their greed.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bledsoe

      Well said,Jerry.

      August 25, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • bangash

      Jerry you are absolutely right as it had been the way to rule the world at the cost of other poor nations. It was possible in Latin America, Africa and Middle East but in Asia, results were different, especially Afghanistan where all such intentions or attempts have received humiliating response and have changed the course of history. According to the new America of Barak Obama, Afghans deserved generous international assistance to explore their own natural resources, purely for their own benefits and this will surely make Afghans self sufficient at their own homes. But if it was deception what OBAMA had promised to the world to change America then surely this is greed based strategy then Jerry it will meet the same fate as has been happened to all their predecessors.

      August 27, 2010 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
    • jason

      How was NATo motivated by their Greed? They didnt want to go into Afghanistan or Iraq in the first place, or do you forget the cowboy who said we would do it on our own.

      August 29, 2010 at 5:49 am | Report abuse |
    • MaryM

      Not well said Jerry. The minerals are a new discovery that will hopefully enable the Afghan people to bolster their own economy and take pride in their country. Plus, maybe they can find some sort of gems over there I need new earrings.

      August 30, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
      • Jerry

        There's a bridge in Brooklin, NY that I'd like to sell to you.Are you really that naive?

        August 30, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  27. John

    Now we know what the NATO forces are fighting for and why we're in Afghanistan! No surprise there!!!

    August 25, 2010 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Robert G

      Im all for reading between the lines, but I think you are stretching it a bit. There are multiple reasons why we invaded Afghanistan, not the least of which was the fact that it was the most important Al Qaeda base of operations (remember, the guys that turned or airlines into flying suicide bombs). Throw in the enslavement of the female population, some minerals, and the imperialist nature of America and its sprawling network of military bases throughout the world and you have a good start to understanding why we are in Afghanistan. To say it was just because of the minerals I think is reading too much between the lines. As in, you are seeing the tree and not the forest.

      August 25, 2010 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
      • jason

        I agree with most of your points but one. We invaded Afghanistan because they wouldnt turn over Osama Bin Laden. The Afghan leader said if the U.S. would provide proof that Osama was involved he would turn Osama over. Second, the Taliban were not involved with 9/11 nor were they associated with Al-qaida. The two countries we should have invaded were Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Remember, the Sauds provide billions to fund the madharasa's "schools" in Pakistan that churn out "terrorists" by the truck load. These schools are very much like the ones Hitler set up in Germany but instead of preaching nationalism and Arayanism, they preach a extreme version of Islam called Wahabism. The fact is our grand fathers put the Sauds in power in the 40-50s and now were paying the price.

        August 29, 2010 at 5:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Superman

      Anyone who thinks we went in to Afghanistan for minerals or Iraq for oil is a fool. Google how much money we’ve spent on those wars so far, we will never make that money back. Not to mention, the majority of the mining contracts will probably go to India or China, not the US.

      August 25, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
      • DDM

        Taxpayers spent the money & our nation is broke. However, the wealthy & big corporations in the game of providing weaponry, uniforms, security, etc get PAID with our tax money AND they want never ending war to keep the money rolling in. Never mind it's on the backs & blood of us 'little' people who are disposable. It's called the military-industrial complex and it has all the power & money to stay in charge forever. Like it?

        August 27, 2010 at 1:35 am | Report abuse |
      • The_Mick

        Your argument that what "we" spent on Iraq negates the possibility we went in for oil ignores two things. 1) The Bush Administration initially berated Congress for complaining about cost, saying Iraqi oil would more than pay for the war. 2) Those who wanted the oil didn't have to pay for the war. In Feb, 2007, the Iraqi Parliament was arm-twisted into agreeing to a bill, written at BP's headquarters, that gave U.S. and British companies a lucrative 30-year lease of key Iraqi oil sites. A British Member of Parliament, noting that lease, quipped, "So what was called a war for weapons of mass destruction was really a war for weapons of mass production!"

        August 28, 2010 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
      • jason

        Your completely wrong. Right after the invasion of Afghanistan the northern pipeline was completed, it now bypasses Russia. This was a pipeline that was cancelled in Clintons administration but was brought back to life right after the invasion. As for the minerals, we didnt know about them until about 2005, two years after the invasion and after we recovered the records in Kabul.

        August 29, 2010 at 5:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Randy

      John,you're ridiculous.I'd love to see you say that to one of our guys sitting in a Hospital bed because their legs were amputated by an IED.Grab a gun son,be part of the solution,not one who sits around thinking of conspiracy theories and doesn't know his ass from a hole in the ground.

      August 26, 2010 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
      • George Patton

        Did it ever occur to you Randy,that John might have the right idea? It seems to me that he certainly does and so far,I agree with him!

        August 26, 2010 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
      • Bledsoe

        For goodness sake Daniel-2 if you are going to post under assumed/stolen names vary the comments it is too easy to spot you.

        August 29, 2010 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Henry

      The 911 pilots were Saudi. You still don't get it.

      August 27, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • jason

      Again, Pushtuns are not Arabs, Arabs are the ones who decided and flew the aircraft into various buildings in the U.S. The Sauds are also the ones paying millions to fund these radical Wahhabism schools in Pakistan that breed these terrorists. As I said earlier, you want to get rid of these terrorists then go after the Sauds.

      August 29, 2010 at 5:55 am | Report abuse |
    • roshev32

      If you are really that cynical and if you are an American I sincerely hope you leave the country. By your logic, we should have invaded Canada for their tar sands. It would have been easier logistically and we wouldn't have to worry about all that nation building stuff.

      August 31, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |