China eyes Afghanistan’s vast mineral resources

As the Taliban seize control of Afghanistan, they have inherited vast resources of precious metals. These are resources that are of huge interest to countries like China. According to a US geological survey report, the value of Afghanistan’s mineral resources would run up to $1 trillion. The Afghan government meanwhile pegs the value at as high as $3 trillion.

CNBC-TV18 reported that the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban puts a question mark on how they will use the country’s mineral wealth and whether it will honour trade and mining deals signed by previous governments in Afghanistan.

The country has an untapped 2.2 billion tonnes of iron ore, 1.3 billion tonnes of marble, 60 million tonnes of copper and 2700 kilogram of gold deposits. It also has 1.4 million metric tonnes of rare-earth metals, untapped resources of lithium and uranium. In hydrocarbons, it has at least 150 million barrels of oil reserves, 4500 billion cubic feet of gas across 29 reserves.

China was the first country to seek friendly and cooperative relations with the Taliban as it has its eye on Afghanistan’s copper ore reserves. The price of copper recently soared up to $10,000 per tonne. The Mes Aynak basin in Afghanistan has the world’s second-largest copper ore deposits and in 2007 China had signed a 30-year lease to extract copper ore from this area. However, the project could not take off due to security reasons and China would like this to work under the new regime.

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