Afghan mineral wealth being looted by strongmen, experts say

By Associated Press / April 15, 2016 / / Article Link

The brilliant blue stone lapis lazuli, prized for millennia, is almost uniquely found in Afghanistan, a key part of the extensive mineral wealth that is seen as the best hope for funding development of one of the world's poorest nations.

Instead, the stone has become a source of income for the Taliban, smugglers and local warlords, emblematic of the central government's struggle to gain control over the resources and rein in corruption.

Afghanistan has reserves of coal, copper, iron ore, zinc, mercury, rare earths, gems such as rubies and emeralds, gold and silver, and much more. True values are difficult to assess, but Afghanistan's mineral and petrochemical deposits have been valued at up to $3 trillion.

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