Pentagon will teach high-tech minerals prospecting to Afghans
Published: December 2, 2011
WASHINGTON – Last year, the Defense Department and the U.S. Geological Survey mapped out what the Pentagon says is “at least $1 trillion in mineral resources, fossil fuels, and rare earth elements within Afghanistan.”
In a move announced this week, DOD’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations said it would work with USGS to teach Afghans how to pinpoint the location of the riches and market them to investors.
“This will become the backbone of the Afghan economy,” said Jalil Jumriany, an advisor to Afghanistan’s minister of mines, in an interview last year with the New York Times.
The exploitation of potentially huge reserves of metals like iron and copper, as well as rare minerals vital to high-tech manufacturing, is a potential source of long-term income for Afghanistan. Observers agree the country is likely to take an economic hit as the international military presence drops in coming years and as international aid tails off, as many experts on the region predict it will.
Under the newly announced Airborne Geophysical Exploration Program, DOD and USGS will instruct scientists of the the Afghan Geological Survey in airborne minerals prospecting. The training will include an “introduction to theory of gravity, magnetic, electrical and electromagnetic data” as well as instruction in the use of geophysical data and interpretation software and in management of contracts with foreign firms looking to strike it rich.
“By working with the Afghan Geological Survey on an airborne geophysical exploration program, we are taking an important step in preparing the Afghan government to conduct their own mineral exploration efforts,” said Emily Scott, director of natural resource development for the Pentagon’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations. “The goal of this training is to enable the Afghan government to give the best information possible to international investors.”