I hope a PIO is to blame for this too-clever headline: “Lithium could be gold mine for Afghanistan.”
But, the premise of this story is false and is emerging as one of those Zombie lies:
“But it’s a relatively rare mineral and there’s not much of it in the world, so any new deposits are always welcome.”
There is plenty of lithium in the world, period.
Admittedly, it’s not in a pure form, and not always in minerals that can easily and cheaply give up their lithium contents. But lithium is very recyclable and the world reserves are at least 11,000,000 metric tons (a number that doesn’t include what may be in Aghanistan).
The only extent to which lithium is “rare” is due to geopolitical forces, not geological ones. Put another way, the big manufacturing nations don’t have as much lithium under their political and military control as they would like. On the other hand, poor and developing nation that are lithium rich, such as Bolivia, Argentina and Chile, are resistant to giving away such a valuable resource.
The enormous technical and logistical problems of getting lithium out of a place like Bolivia are a cake walk compared to what one would face trying to haul it out of Afghanistan (unless the supply chain management is subcontracted to the opium/heroin warlords and kingpins, in which case, come to think of it, it might be easy and lucrative).
So, Afghanistan as a nation getting rich off its lithium lode? Never gonna happen.