Monday, May 20, 2013

Afghan treasures stay buried (audio)

Seven, Wisdom Quarterly; Sean Carberry, Kabul Correspondent (,
Bamiyan, Afghanistan, the real Kapilavastu in Himalayan foothills of Hindu Kush (wiki)
An Afghan worker helps excavate part of the mountaintop copper works above the ancient city at Mes Aynak in February. Afghanistan is believed to be sitting on massive mineral and metal deposits. But many obstacles have prevented large-scale mining from getting underway.
Afghan worker excavates ancient Buddhist city at Mes Aynak, Feb. 2013. Afghanistan is believed to be sitting on massive cultural, mineral, and metal deposits, but obstacles prevent large-scale mining (Matthew C. Rains/MCT/Landov).

Emerging treasures of Mes Aynak (B. Huffman)
For years, reports have suggested that Afghanistan is sitting on massive deposits of copper, gold, iron and rare earth minerals valued up to $3 trillion. This provides hope for a future economy that would not have to rely so heavily on foreign donations.
But with an uncertain political, regulatory and security environment, international investors are hesitant. And it could be many years before Afghanistan begins extracting its mineral wealth.
The Afghan Geological Survey office in Kabul is one of the few agencies in the country that measure up to international standards.
A journalist walks by an exhibit of minerals on the way to a news conference by the Afghan minister of mines, in Kabul in 2010.
Journalist walks by mineral exhibit on the way to news conference by Afghan minister of mines, Kabul 2010 (Musadeq Sadeq/AP).
The CIA's "Taliban" damage
 Here, a U.S. government task force is helping train and advise Afghan geologists in processing samples from potential mining sites.
On a recent day, technicians are busy cataloging core samples from North Aynak in Logar province, about 30 miles south of [the war torn capital of] Kabul. Afghan and U.S. geologists are evaluating the site's potential as a copper [and rare earth] mine.
Fitzgerald (
Long thin cylinders of greenish rock from the site are lined up in cases. After they are cataloged and photographed, they go to the cutting room, says geologist Mohammed Idrees Ahmadi.
"We cut them, we can see the mineralizations, the structures, and the textures of minerals or rocks that are in the sample," he explains. More+AUDIO 

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