Afghan Mineral Estimates

So after reading that New York Times story about the Afghan mineral finds Steve mentioned, I got curious about just how large that stockpile of “treasure” really was.  Unfortunately, the Times story was only moderately helpful in that regard, focusing mostly on “money quotes” with little mention of actual quantities.  OTOH, it did include this somewhat-helpful table, which gave a breakdown of what minerals accounted for what portions of that eye-catching $1 trillion figure.  Using those numbers, along with price & resource information from USGS’s 2010 Mineral Commodities Summaries, I was able to generate the following table, containing my guestimates of what Afghan mineral resources actually amount to, and how they compare with US & world resources of the same.

Table 1

Mineral value ($ bn) 2009 price ($)
Iron 420.9 70.00 / metric ton
Copper 274.0 2.30 / lb
Niobium 81.2 39,000.00 / metric ton
Cobalt 50.8 18.00 / lb
Gold 25.0 950.00 / troy oz
Molybdenum 23.9 25.80 / kg
Rare earths 7.4 12,137.82 / metric ton of RE oxides
Asbestos 6.3 613.00 / metric ton
Silver 5.3 13.37 / troy oz
Potash 5.1 820.00 / metric ton of K2O
Aluminum 4.4 0.78 / lb

Table 2

Resources
Afghan (implied) US World 2008 US consumption (apparent)
6,012,857,143 110,000,000,000 800,000,000,000 49,700,000
54,036,656 550,000,000 3,000,000,000 2,020,000
2,082,051 150,000 2,900,000* 8,450
1,280,138 1,000,000 15,000,000 10,100
819 33,000 330,000 176
926,357 5,400,000 14,000,000 36,100
609,665 13,000,000* 99,000,000* 7,410
10,277,325 200,000,000 1,460
12,330 25,000* 400,000* 5,310
6,219,512 7,000,000,000 250,000,000,000 6,800,000
2,558,726 3,790,000

Notes:

* = reserve # cited in lieu of resource #.

1.  I used a non-USGS estimate for world gold resources; see here.  For asbestos, USGS didn’t give US resource #’s; ditto US & world resource #’s for aluminum.

2.  These probably overestimate Afghan resources somewhat, since I was using USGS’s 2009 mineral prices instead of current ones (for which I couldn’t find a complete set).

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