Afghanistan Is Sitting On A Gold Mine. Literally.

Afghanistan is sitting on a gold mine. I don’t mean that figuratively.

The country sits atop what could be one of the world’s largest reserves of various metals and minerals, including not just gold but also platinum, silver, copper, iron, aluminum, and uranium. It’s believed to have so much lithium, an increasingly important metal that’s widely used in battery technology, that Afghanistan could one day be known as the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” according to a 2010 memo by the U.S. Department of Defense.

The combined value of its minerals is estimated at between $1 trillion and $3 trillion. By comparison, opium poppy production in the country was valued at only $350 million in 2020, despite an increase in cultivation from the previous year.

Afghanistan Rich in All-Important REEs. Will They Fall into the Right Hands?

Among Afghanistan’s rich resources are rare earth elements (REEs). REEs are those metals with unpronounceable names that are used in the manufacture of advanced technologies, including electric vehicles, wind turbines, and missile guidance systems. Your iPhone contains a number of them. Each F-35 fighter jet carries about half a ton of these strategic elements.

As I’ve shared with you before, China has virtually cornered the global REE market. The U.S. has only one developed deposit — the Mountain Pass Mine near Las Vegas, owned by MP Materials — which supplies about 15.8% of the world’s REEs. In October 2020, former President Donald Trump signed an executive order addressing America’s overreliance on these “critical minerals” from “foreign adversaries,” including China.

And speaking of China, it’s not letting a good opportunity go to waste. Mere hours after the Taliban completed its swift takeover of Afghanistan, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said that Beijing was ready to participate in “Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development.”

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Disclosure: MVIS Global Rare Earth/Strategic Metals Index covers the largest and most liquid companies which are active in the rare earth/strategic metals sector. The index is reviewed on a ...

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