Amid surging demand for rare-earth minerals used in everything from cell phones to gas-saving cars, Afghans are dreaming of cashing in on vast deposits they believe lie beneath their feet.
The problem is that they are in one of the country’s most dangerous spots, on the south bank of the Helmand River in southern Afghanistan, where fighting rages in a traditional Taliban stronghold.
That Afghanistan sits on vast mineral wealth has been detailed in several surveys, the most extensive of which were conducted by the Soviets in the 1970s. Mining companies, both Afghan and foreign, already have shown interest, notably in its copper, iron and oil.
Last month, Afghan officials proudly presented what they say is $3 trillion worth of deposits scattered throughout the country, more than triple the initial dollar amount estimated by the U.S. Defense Department last June…..
Inside the Killing Machine
…..The number of such killings, carried out mostly by Predators in Pakistan, has increased dramatically during the Obama administration, and these covert actions have become an integral part of U.S. counterterrorism strategy…..