Rare Earth Metals are a set of seventeen elements, mined from the earth, which form the basis of modern day gadgets, from the smart phones to hybrid cars, defence equipment and almost everything else thats part of our modern day technology.
Currently, China is the biggest supplier of Rare Earth Metals, producing almost 93% of the global demand. As the demand exponentially exceeds the supply, it is feared that global supply of Rare Earth Metals could be wiped out by 2012.
China is already reacting to this, applying new taxes and cutting its export of rare earth minerals by 30%. Global prices of rare earth metals have doubled in past two weeks.
Enter Afghanistan, rich in rare earth metals, minerals and precious stones. One research report claimed Afghanistan to be the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material used to manufacture the batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys.
Considering the importance of Afghanistan and its natural resources, the reasons behind earlier invasion by USSR and current occupation by United States and its allies are quite obvious.
What the United States of America and its allies want from Afghanistan, and Pakistan, are their natural resources, especially the huge, untouched deposits of Real Earth Elements (REE). This is the real reason for Afghan War.
According to a report in New York Times, the United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself.
The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.
The mineral deposits are scattered throughout the country, including in the southern and eastern regions along the border with Pakistan that have had some of the most intense combat in the American-led war against the Taliban insurgency.
So far, the biggest mineral deposits discovered are of iron and copper, and the quantities are large enough to make Afghanistan a major world producer of both, United States officials said. Other finds include large deposits of niobium, a soft metal used in producing superconducting steel, rare earth elements and large gold deposits in Pashtun areas of southern Afghanistan.
Just this month, American geologists working with the Pentagon team have been conducting ground surveys on dry salt lakes in western Afghanistan where they believe there are large deposits of lithium. Pentagon officials said that their initial analysis at one location in Ghazni Province showed the potential for lithium deposits as large of those of Bolivia, which now has the world’s largest known lithium reserves.
Now the interesting part:
At the same time, American officials fear resource-hungry China will try to dominate the development of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth, which could upset the United States, given its heavy investment in the region. After winning the bid for its Aynak copper mine in Logar Province, China clearly wants more, American officials said.
It is another wake-up call for those who take the War on Terror at its face value and believe that Americans and their allies are in Afghanistan to hunt down Al Qaeda.
Afghanistan is a playing field for foreign powers who will try all means to prolong their invasion in order to strip the country of its resources. Pakistan, on the other hand, is a buffer zone between India and China, as well as the Arabs and Iran. If our government and establishment continue with our policy of acting as proxies and mercenaries for others, Pakistan and its people will suffer more in days to come.
Image: Smart Economy