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Amid War, Appraising the Mineral Wealth of Afghanistan

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Science  25 Jun 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5986, pp. 1620
DOI: 10.1126/science.328.5986.1620

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Last week, it was reported that officials had "discovered" that Afghanistan harbored mineral wealth estimated at more than $1 trillion. That includes vast deposits of copper and iron ore, cobalt, molybdenum, and gold, which Pentagon officials say could transform Afghanistan's economy. Two geologists who have helped manage the survey are Jack Medlin, a regional specialist in international programs at the U.S. Geological Survey, and Said Mirzad, who directed the Afghanistan Geological Survey until 1979 and currently serves as Afghanistan Program co-coordinator at USGS. Last week, they spoke to Science about the past, present, and future of mineral exploration in the war-torn country.