Afghanistan set for mines boom
The US has discovered up to $1trillion (€800bn) in untapped mineral resources in Afghanistan.
The finds could revolutionise the country's economy and perhaps even the war, US officials said.
Afghanistan has long been known to harbour large deposits of copper and iron, but the scale of resources is now believed to be far higher than previously thought.
Large seams of cobalt, gold and iron could turn Afghanistan into a world centre for mining, US officials hope.
Jack Medlin, a geologist in the US Geological Survey's international affairs programme, said: "On the ground, it's very, very, promising. Actually, it's pretty amazing."
Afghan officials believe that the mining sector will eventually become the backbone of the Afghan economy and provide hundreds of thousands of jobs.
The economy is currently dominated by aid money and drug-smuggling, raising fears that the coalition's investments in building the Afghan state are ultimately unsustainable.
A thriving mining economy offers the chance of much-needed funding to the state, but it would take several years to build up necessary infrastructure.
"There is stunning potential here," said Gen David Petraeus, the commander of the US Central Command. "There are a lot of 'ifs', of course, but I think it is hugely significant." (© Daily Telegraph, London)