Untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan

The NYT reports a new status for Afghanistan’s future if accurate:

The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself, according to senior American government officials.

The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.

An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and Blackberries.

Update: hat tip Naked Capitalism for the fact that this ‘find’ was reported in February here.

Update 2: Andrew Grantham reports copper mining to include a railway to China in 2008. And one Bloomberg update on rail progress to ‘extract’ copper to markets if the resource is to be more than just potential.

Update 3: There are at present no railroads to China, although one was commissioned 2008. And the dream of a route for both trade from Afghanistan and a route for Central Asian oil/gas to a city like Gwadar (see rdan in 2007) in the south through Balochistan has gone nowhere.