There’s a fascinating history told in the New York Times about the maps that detail the mineral wealth of Afghanistan. Soviet geologists created the first maps of the country’s mineral wealth, but these were cast aside when they withdrew in 1989. Subsequently, Afghans in the country’s Geological Survey protected these charts during the civil war, secreting them from the Taliban and releasing them after the American invasion.
“Armed with the old Russian charts, the United States Geological Survey began a series of aerial surveys of Afghanistan’s mineral resources in 2006, using advanced gravity and magnetic measuring equipment attached to an old Navy Orion P-3 aircraft that flew over about 70 percent of the country.The data from those flights was so promising that in 2007, the geologists returned for an even more sophisticated study, using an old British bomber equipped with instruments that offered a three-dimensional profile of mineral deposits below the earth’s surface. It was the most comprehensive geologic survey of Afghanistan ever conducted.”
These studies have concluded that a trillion dollars worth of minerals such as iron, copper, lithium, and gold occur throughout the country. These resources could transform the economy of this country, but could also lead to further instability.