The Best Defense

Minerals in Afghanistan? Mais oui!

The New York Times's breathless coverage of minerals in Afghanistan was greeted with chuckles not only by FP's Blake Hounshell but by old Afghan hands. Here John Stuart Blackton, who has shaken more Helmand River sand out of his shorts than most Americans in Afghanistan have walked on, provides some background. By the way, before running USAID in Afghanistan, John attended Stephens College of Delhi-as did Pakistan's Gen. Zia.

By John Stuart Blackton
Best Defense Afghan natural resources editor

The " discovery" of Afghanistan's minerals will sound pretty silly to old timers.  When I was living in Kabul in the early 1970's the USG,  the Russians, the World Bank, the UN and others were all  highly focused on the wide range of Afghan mineral deposts.  The Russian geological service was all over the North in the 60's and 70's. 

Cheap ways of moving the ore to ocean ports has always been the limiting factor.  The Russians were looking at a northern rail corridor.

Take a look at this little bibliography of Afghan mineral assessments.  This one is mostly Russian, but pre-dates the DoD/USG "discovery" period by 30 years.  In my day we did a joint USG/Iranian study of a potential rail line from Afghanistan to several of the Iranian rail hubs.  This was predicated on mineral exploitation in a way that would thwart the Russian's northern rail corridor plans. 

In the early 70's the USG had an old FDR New-Deal planner/economist/brains-truster   - Bob Nathan - working with the Afghan Ministry of Plan to work out a fifty year mineral exploitation program.  When the Russians took over they picked up Bob's plans and extended them.  So this is anything but a "new discovery".  

Low cost, long haul transport infrastructure remains the constraint.  The Louis Berger "four inches of asphalt  on the old Ring Road" doesn't do it.

Bibliography

Drummond, C. (1841) On the mines and mineral resources of Northern Afghanistan. Journal of the Asiat. Society Bengal, Calcutta, 1841, 10: 74-93.

Furon, R. (1924) Les ressources minières de l'Afghanistan. Rev. Sci, Paris, 1924: 62: 313.

Momji, G.S. and Chaikin, S.N. (1960) Iron ores of Afghanistan. Kabul, DGMS, 1960.

Maiorov, A.N., Suderkin, A.I., and Krepoy, M.E. (1965) Report by the Survey and Prospecting Team on the results obtained in 1963-1964 at the lapis-lazuli occurrences of Afghanistan. Kabul, Rec. Off., DGMS, 1965.

Malyarov, A.N., Suderkin, A.I., and Krepov, N.E. (1965) Report on the results of prospecting for and exloration of lapis-lazuli carried out in Afghanistan in 1963-1964. Kabul, DGMS, 1965.

Narodniy, V.M. and Shwarkov, S.L. (1965) Report on the reslts of survey and prospecting for beryl carried out in 1963-64 in the eastern part of Afghanistan with the reserves assessment of the Darrahe Pech rare metal-bearing pegmatite deposit. Kabul, Rec. Off. DCMS, 1965.

Khasanov, R.L., Plotnikov, G.I., Bayazitov, R.A., Zamaraev, G.N., Trifonov, A.I., and Sayapin, V.I. (1967) Report on the results of revision and assessment of copper, lead, zinc, gold occurrences carried out in 1965-1966. Kabul Rec. Off. DGMS, 1967.

Mikhailov, K.Ya., Moraliov, V.M., Perfiliev, Yu.S., and Chalian, M.A. (1969) The bauxite potential of the Mesozoic deposits in the southern part of the Afghano-Tadjik Depression. Razvedka i okhrana nedr, 1969, No. 7.

Dronov, V.I., Kalimulin, S.M., Kabaov, O.N., Kotchetkov, A.Ya., Zelensky, E.D., Chistyakov, A.N., and Svezhentsov, V.P. (1970) The geology and minerals of the western part of Central Afghanistan (Report of the Herat Team on the work in 1969). Kabul, DGMS, 1970.

Karapetov, S.S., Stazhilo-Alekseev, K.F., Kotchetov, A.Ya., Semionov, Yu.G., and Gorelov, A.I. (1970) The geology and minerals of the eastern part of Central Afghanistan. Kabul, DGMS, 1970.

Denikayev, Sh.Sh., Feoktistov, V.P., Pyzhyanov, I.V., Adjruddin, A., Narbaev, Sh.N., and Konev, Yu.M. (1971) The geology and minerals of the southern part of East Afghanista. Kabul, DGMS, 1971.

Denikayev, Sh.Sh., Feoktistov, V.P., Pyzhyanov, I.V., Adjruddin, A.A., Narbaev, Sh.N., and Konev, Yu.M. (1971) The geology and minerals in the south part of Eastern Afghanistan (Report of the Kabul team on the work in 1970). Kabul Rec. Off. DGMS, 1971.

Dovgal, Yu.M., Chalian, M.A., Nagliov, V.S., Diomin, A.N., Vaulin, V.A., Belitch, A.I., Sonin, I.I., Kononykhin, E.T., Zharikhin, K.C., Maksimov, N.P., Skvortsov, N.S., and Kharitonov, A.P. (1971) Geology and minerals in the south-eastern part of Central Afghanistan (Report on survey, scale 1:200,000, carried out in 1967-1970). Kabul Rec. Off. DGMS, 1971.

Litvinenko, K.I., Parfionov, Yu.I. (1971) Report on the results of geological prospecting for and evaluaton of mercury occurrences carried out in 1970. Kabul, DGMS, 1971.

Litvinenko, K.I., Rul'kovsky, M.F., and Koshelev, Yu.M. (1971) Report by the Kundalyan Party on the reslts of geological prospecting for and exploration of copper occurrences carried out in 1969-1970. Kabul, DGMS, 1971.

Chmyriov, V.M., Stazhilo-Alekseev, K.F., Mirzad, S.H., Dronov, V.I., Kazikhani, A.R., Salah, A.S., and Teleshev, G.I. (1972) Mineral resources of Afghanistan (A explanatory note to the Map of Mineral Deposits and occurrences of Afghanistan, scale: 1:1,000,000), Kabul, DGMS, 1972.

Chmyriov, V.M., Stazhilo-Alekseev, K.F., Mirzad, S.H., Dronov, V.I., Kazikhani, A.R., Salah, A.S., and Teleshev, G.I. (1972) Mineral resources of Afghanistan. Geology and Mineral Resources of Afghanistan. Print. Kabul Times, Kabul, 1973, Ed. 1.

Denikayev, Sh.Sh., Feoktistov, V.P., Rossovsky, L.N., and Adjruddin, A. (1972) The geology and minerals of the northern part of East Afghanistan (Report of the Kabul party on the work in 1971). Kabul, DGMS, 1972.

Dronov, V.I., Kalimulin, S.M., Sbortshchikov, I.M., Svezhentsov, V.P., Chistyakov, A.N., Zelensky, E.D., and Cherepov, P.C. (1972) Geology and minerals of north Afghanistan (parts of sheets 400-II and 500-I, Kaisor-Hari Rod interfluve). Kabul Rec. Off. DGMS, 1972.

Dronov, V.I., Karapetov, S.S., Kalimulin, S.M., Kotchetkev, A.Ya., Sonin, .I., Stazhilo-Alekseev, K.F., Svezhentsov, V.P., Semionov, Yu.G. (Editos: V.M. Chmyriov and S.H. Mirzad)(1972). Geological map of central and south-west Afghanistan, scale 1:500,000. Printed in Cartographic Institute. Kabul, 1972.

Kafarskiy, A.Kh., Stazhilo-Alekseev, K.F., Pyzhyanov, I.V., Achilov, G.Sh., Gorelov, A.I., Bezulov, G.M., and Gazanfari, S.A. (1972) Geology and minerals of the Western Hendukush and the eastern part of the Bande-Turkestan (parts of sheets 500-I, 500-II). Kabul, Rec. Off. DGMS, 1972.

Litvinenko, K.I., Parfionov, Yu.I., and Zastoin, A.I. (1972) Report on the results of prospecting for and assessment of mercury occurrences carried out in 1971. Kabul, Rec. Off. DCMS, 1972.

Dronov, V.I. (1973) Generalized stratigraphic columns to the Geological Map of Central and South-Western Afghanistan, Scale 1:50 000. Printed Kabul Times, Kabul, 1973, 2 sheets.

Dronov, V.I., Stazhilo-Alekseev, K.F., Kotchetkov, A.Ya., Karapetov, S.S., Kalimulin, S.M., ad Sonin, I.I. (1973) The geology and minerals of Central and South-West Afghanistan. Kabul Rec. Off. DGMS, 1973.

Gumerov, L.G. (1973) A preliminary report on prospecting for chrisotile-asbestos carried out by the Non-Metalliferous party in 1970-1972 and on further trend of the work. Kabul, DGMS, 1973.

Kabakov, O.N. (1973) Review of the tin occurrences of Afghanistan (Summary report by prospecting and evaluation party on the work in 1970-1972). Kabul, DGMS, 1973.

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Filippov, O.I. (1974) Report on the results of prospecting and exploration for mica-muscovite in Afghanistan carried out in 1972-1974. kabul, DMS, 1974.

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Kafarskiy, A.Kh., Averianov, V.B., Kolesnichenko, V.A., Burel, M.P. and Achlov, G.Sh. (1975) The geology and minerals of the West Hendukush parts of map sheets 200-II, 500-III, 500-IV). Kabul, DGMS, 1975.

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