Min­eral wealth big plus for Afghanistan

The Washington Times Weekly - - World - By Rachel Kauf­man

A three-year study has found vast min­eral re­sources in Afghanistan, boost­ing hopes for an early eco­nomic re­cov­ery in the in­sur­gency-trou­bled coun­try, a sur­vey says.

The sur­vey, con­ducted by the U.S. Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey and the Afghanistan Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey, found enough cop­per to meet world needs for three years and enough cobalt to sup­ply the world for a decade, Bill Werkheiser, the as­so­ci­ate di­rec­tor for ge­ol­ogy at the USGS said ear­lier this month.

“Afghanistan is blessed with a wealth of min­eral re­sources,” said Mr. Werkheiser.

He said the sur­vey, con­ducted from 2004 to 2007, had turned up a to­tal of 31 metal, in­dus­trial min- eral and build­ing ma­te­rial de­posits in­clud­ing ru­bies, emer­alds, sap­phires and other gem­stones.

“Afghanistan’s nat­u­ral re­sources have a qual­ity com­pa­ra­ble to the high­est-class min­er­als of the en­tire re­gion,” said Said Jawad, Afghanistan’s am­bas­sador to the United States.

Mem­bers of the Afghan-Amer­i­can Cham­ber of Com­merce and U.S. Agency for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment are hop­ing for­eign busi­nesses will be in­flu­enced by this dis­cov­ery and in­vest in Afghanistan.

“I can guar­an­tee you there will be more [. . . ] in­vest­ing in Afghanistan, and there will be a sus­tained com­mit­ment on be­half of the U.S. gov­ern­ment to con­tinue to cre­ate and sup­port the con­di­tions of private sec­tor growth in Afghanistan,” said James Kun­der, the act­ing deputy ad­min­is­tra­tor of AID.

AID is “deeply com­mit­ted to sus­tain eco­nomic progress in Afghanistan,” he said at con­fer­ence Nov. 13, ar­gu­ing that in­vestors should not be fright­ened off by press re­ports of vi­o­lence and drug deal­ing in the coun­try.

“The vi­o­lence and the ex­treme cru­elty of that ex­treme group of ter­ror­ists af­fect­ing Afghanistan is dis­pro­por­tion­ate to their ac­tual im­pact on the busi­ness cli­mate,” he said.

He added that only 5 per­cent of agri­cul­ture work­ers in Afghanistan have any­thing to do with the pro­duc­tion or sale of opium pop­pies.

“There are nu­mer­ous op­por­tu­ni­ties, de­spite the oc­ca­sional vi­o­lent ter­ror­ist at­tack, to do busi­ness in Afghanistan,” Mr. Kun­der said.

Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

Sev­eral swans-a-swim­min’: Ham­burg mu­nic­i­pal work­ers round up swans on the Al­ster open basin in the north­ern Ger­man city on Nov. 19. Col­lect­ing the birds is a fa­mous tra­di­tion in the Hanseatic city’s Al­ster dis­trict, en­abling them to be brought to their win­ter­ing en­clo­sure.

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