The Watering Hole: June 19 – Vultures

As we’ve learned recently, Afghanistan possesses a wealth of up to now undiscovered, or rather undisclosed, mineral deposits. In a world hungry for gold, lithium, copper, iron  this was bringing out the buzzards double quick. The New York Times reports:

WASHINGTON — Mining companies around the world are eager to exploit Afghanistan’s newly discovered mineral wealth, but executives of Western firms caution that war, corruption and lack of roads and other infrastructure are likely to delay exploration for years.

A few high-risk investors are sufficiently intrigued by the country’s potential to take an early look. JP Morgan, for instance, has just sent a team of mining experts to Afghanistan to examine possible projects to develop.

[…]

Afghan officials have interpreted their mining regulations in such a way that if a company is awarded a concession to explore and then discovers valuable minerals, the government can tender the concession back and rebid it, undermining any incentive for a foreign firm to actually find large deposits, he said.

“They can take it back after you discover something,” Mr. Yeager said. “That needs to be corrected.”

(read more)

It is not as if the minerals are theirs, heh! Understandably the Afghans themselves are suspicious:

Many Afghans I have spoken with believe firmly that America wants to permanently occupy the country in order to take Afghan land and resources. Even educated Afghan friends who generally support a temporary US presence have told me the same. I had to laugh when one suggested that Americans would want to move to Afghanistan to snatch up Afghan land for homes. (read more)

The mining corporations will be falling over themselves to get a foot in, never mind what they say now. They are used to securing their interests with their own security forces or mercenaries. Right now, they have the benefit of the US Army, but Obama plans to withdraw the troops beginning 2011. However, help can be found in the usual places:

Several lawmakers, including former presidential candidate and war hero Senator John McCain, have criticized Obama for setting deadlines, saying they empower the enemy who would wait it out for U.S. forces to leave.

“It’s time for the president to state unequivocally that we will stay in Afghanistan until we succeed,” said McCain, who said all the key trends were moving in the wrong direction. (read more)

Same old. Same old.

This is our open thread. Go ahead and tell us what’s on your mind today.

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