The Afghan Ministry of Mines last month presented information on 27 prospective mining sites that it says contain an estimated $3 trillion in iron, copper, gold and other prized minerals.
Here are highlights it reported on six of the prospective mining sites:
— Nearly $90 billion worth of rare earth minerals as well as niobium in southwest Helmand province.
— An estimated $30 billion in gold and copper deposits in the Zana Khan, an area of Ghazni province that Wahidullah Shahrani, the minister of mines, said could become one of Afghanistan's largest mining operations within five years.
— Up to $60 billion in lithium deposits in Herat, Ghazni, Nimroz and Farah provinces. A U.S. Defense Department task force projects that small-scale lithium production could begin within one year and large-scale production 2-4 years later.
— An undetermined amount of copper just north of the Aynak copper mine in Logar province, which is being run by China Metallurgical Construction Co.
— An estimated $29 billion in copper in Herat province. Previous studies by Soviet and Afghan geologists concluded that this deposit was not worthwhile to mine, but new data suggests it is.
— A massive copper deposit in Balkhab district of Balkh province, value undetermined, but the task force report said it could become a significant mining operating in fewer than five years.