According to the recently presented geological reports from the U.S. Pentagon, large mineral deposits in war-ravaged Afghanistan could transform the country into the El Dorado of South-Central Asia, according to Industrial Info Resources. General David Petraeus, the head of U.S. Central Command, has indicated that Afghanistan”s unexplored mining potential is worth nearly $1 trillion. Petraeus said Afghanistan”s rich deposits of gold, copper, iron ore, cobalt, lithium and coal have the potential to turn the war-stricken country into a global mining hub. However, Industrial Info reports the country”s rough terrain, unstable political climate and Taliban insurgency could pose major hurdles to development.

The resources are large enough for commercial development and to attract global investments. The mineral deposits are located across the country, including the Taliban-controlled Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The government has reportedly planned road shows to showcase Afghanistan”s mining potential. A road show will be held in London on June 25, and representatives from 200 global corporations are expected to participate in the event, according to Industrial Info.

According to reports, the U.S. has informed Afghanistan about the discovery, and the Pentagon is also setting up a special task force to help the government prepare procedures and modalities to develop the mines. The government is likely to invite bids by the second half of 2011 to explore and develop these projects. Sources indicate that Afghanistan may follow the methodology adopted by Iraq and award contracts to Western companies. Experts have also observed that landlocked Afghanistan has to rely on Pakistani ports for imports and exports, which could pose political problems, reports Industrial Info.

In a related development, Industrial Info says China has secured rights to develop the Aynak copper mine in the Logar province of Afghanistan. Controversies surrounded the bids for this mine, which has estimated reserves of 240 million tons, after reports that $30 million was paid to Mohammad Ibrahim Adel, Afghanistan”s minister of mines at time. The Afghani government sacked Adel after the accusation. For related information, see Industrial Info”s March 18, 2009, article, “China Metallurgical Begins Work at Afghanistan”s Aynak Copper Deposit” (subscription required).

To read Industrial Info”s full report on this story, click here.