Monday, June 14, 2010

Afghanistan Bonanza

Afghanistan may be the Saudia Arabia of lithium, according to recently reported findings of an American geologist working for the U.S. Geological Survey. In an interview with James Risen of the New York Times, geologist Jack Medlin proposes opening up "some very, very large mines that will require more than just a gold pan."

As the above map suggests, mineral deposits are scattered throughout the country, including in the war-torn regions along the country's borders with Pakistan and Iran. The biggest mineral deposits discovered so far are ores of iron and copper in quantities large enough to make Afghanistan a major world producer of both. There are also large deposits of niobium and rare earth elements. Gold occurs primarily in the Pashtun areas of southern Afghanistan.

The lithium discoveries are relatively recent results from ground surveys on dry salt lakes in western Afghanistan. Initial analyses at one location in Ghazni Province promise lithium deposits as large of those of Bolivia, which now has the world’s largest known lithium reserves


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