Are Claims of Afghan Mineral Wealth a PR Trick?
The announcement of huge mineral deposits in Afghanistan was a coup for both the US and the Afghan governments. But there are doubts about how realistic the estimates are, to what extent they can be developed commercially and, above all, whether mining companies will accept the security risks.
Was the "sensational find" of large natural mineral resources in Afghanistan reportedby the New York Times last week a PR trick by the United States government? Or was it a clever chess move by Afghan Mining Minister Waheedullah Shahrani?
Both had good reason to announce the surprising news. US President Barack Obama is lobbying Congress for a further $33 billion for the military mission in Afghanistan, so the reference to Afghanistan's "stunning potential," as General David Petraeus, the head of US Central Command, put it, comes at a highly convenient time.
Shahrani had some time ago scheduled a meeting with around 200 foreign investors in London for this coming Friday to receive bids for the development of Afghan deposits. But most of the finds reported by the Americans have been known for decades.
The main news is that the deposits are significantly greater than had been thought to date. Shahrani last Thursday exceeded the Americans' claims, saying he thought their estimates were too conservative and trippling the value of the mineral deposits to $3 trillion. more