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Monday, June 14, 2010

Mineral desposits in Afghanistan: Will the wealth below the ground alter the war on it?

Today’s New York Times features an article that details the discovery of some $1 trillion worth of minerals in Afghanistan. That finding of stores of copper, cobalt, gold and industrial metals has far-reaching ramifications. It’s possible that Afghanistan might evolve into one of the world’s most important mining centers. According the article such an evolution could “fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself”. The piece notes that Afghanistan has exiting mining law in place, drawn up with the assistance of the World Bank.

I turned to the World Bank’s website for some additional information from the agency’s Oil, Gas, and Mining Policy Division. There, I  found information on the World Bank's involvement in international mining initiatives and details about some of the most pressing mining-related issues now at hand, including: mining’s impact on the environment, local economic development and poverty reduction efforts. My browsing also reminded me of what a valuable resource the World Bank website is for contemporary primary source data about that agency's projects and operations. Those efforts, which range from protection of water resources, to development of transportation infrastructure to the support of health and social service agencies, are designed to support low-income and middle-income countries’ poverty reduction efforts.

The above picture of Afghan miners comes from the Afghan Embassy.

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