A massive $1 trillion deposit of untapped minerals discovered in Afghanistan includes huge amounts of lithium, which is used in batteries for laptops and mobile phones such as the iPhone and BlackBerry.
A report in the New York Times states that American geologists working with the Pentagon have conducted ground surveys on dry salt lakes, looking for large deposits of lithium.
The potential for Afghan lithium deposits are as large as those of Bolivia, which currently has the world’s largest known lithium reserves.
The report claims that Afghanistan contains so much of the element that it could become the “Saudi Arabia of Lithium”.
The discovery of massive quantities of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and industrial metals such as lithium could turn Afghanistan into one of the most important mining areas in the world.
The Telegraph reports that lithium batteries are being developed as a low-carbon way of powering vehicles, with Sanyo about to start mass producing a lithium-ion battery for solar cell systems and electric cars.
The newspaper reports that the US Geological Survey began aerial surveys of Afghanistan in 2006, using data collected by Soviet mining experts during the occupation in the 1980s.
UPDATE: Another Wired article states that the US military has known about the mineral deposits since 2007, and suggests it this announcment may be little more than war PR.