Back in 2010, US researchers revealed that Afghanistan possesses a vast amount of valuable minerals, both various kinds of metals and rare earth elements, worth some $1 trillion (up to $3 trillion according to some estimates).
Islamist radicals sitting pretty on precious metals and rare earths
Now that Sleepy Joe Biden has disgracefully handed the country over to the Taliban, the radical Islamists are in control of that potential wealth, with China greedily hoping to benefit richly from its development and extraction.
According to the revelations made in 2010 by US geologists and military officials, the mountainous Central Asian country contains deposits of iron, copper, and gold, plus rare earth elements, and, perhaps, most importantly, metals such as cobalt and lithium, which are crucial for the new economy of the 21st century which its upcoming reliance on electric vehicles and rechargeable batteries.
Some estimates say Afghanistan might have the largest lithium reserves in the world, or at least its reserves rival those of Bolivia, presently estimated to have the largest.
Afghanistan’s mineral wealth has barely been scratched on the surface as the development of the more valuable metals and rare earth elements require vast investments, sophistical technologies, and lots and lots of stability, the public good of which Afghanistan has been woefully short.
Taliban control enabled by the abysmal leftist administration of Sleepy Joe Biden by itself isn’t likely to change that, and yet, foreign powers – China, first and foremost, but also the likes of Pakistan and even India, which isn’t on friendly terms with the Taliban, might be able to strike lucrative deals with the radical Islamists to extract at least part of the Afghan mineral wealth.
Common folk unlikely to benefit but China might
A June 2021 report by the US Congressional Research showed that some 90% of Afghans are living on less than $2 per day, which was the poverty line set by the already non-existent Afghan government.
Back in 2010, US Geological Survey official Said Mirzad told Science magazine that if it had several years of calm and stability to develop its mineral resources, in a decade Afghanistan could become one of the region’s richest countries.
Nevertheless, now with the murderous Taliban at the helm and greedy foreign state capitalists such as China stretching their bony hands to grab Afghanistan’s mineral wealth, it is unlikely that its potential development would benefit the general population if at all.
Afghanistan’s mineral mining presently generates about $1 billion per year but much of that sinks into corruption and embezzlement, according to various reports.
China, which actually shares a distant border stretch with Afghanistan, is a world leader in the mining of rare earth elements and has had a strong record of relatively successful state-backed geopolitically motivated projects throughout the Third World.
It also has a history of leaving the project hosts in debt and causing massive environmental destruction.
While the Taliban leader Mollah Baradar in June met in China with the Chinese Foreign Minister and the two sides have been demonstrating a growing rapport, for the time being, it remains unclear to what extent China might be able to develop and extract Afghan resources in the short and medium turn.
But if it is successful at that, this won’t be a surprise, either, not least because America’s rivals might as well benefit big after the horrendous calamity inflicted upon our own nation by supposedly our own president as he, the Sleepy Joe president, abandoned Afghanistan at the worst time, in the worst way possible.