According to the latest reports there is close to £1 trillion in untapped mineral wealth in Afghanistan.

A team of US geologists and pentagon officials have uncovered sufficient mineral wealth in Afghanistan to turn the country into one of the richest mining centres in the world.

Far from being a backwater dustbowl and soldier’s graveyard this could bring the country galloping onto the 21st century.

There is stunning potential here.” General Petraeus, commander of the US central Command told the New York Times.

The minerals discovered include iron, copper, cobalt, gold, niobium and lithium. In fact, according to a Pentagon memo quoted in the press Afghanistan could well be to Lithium what Saudi Arabia is to oil. Niobium is used to make special steels such as that used in gas pipelines. Lithium is a mood stabiliser and is used in high strength to weight aircraft alloys and also batteries. Lithium deuteride serves as a fusion fuel in staged thermonuclear weapons.

The Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, has put the potential wealth even higher at $3 trillion.

This is not new news though. The surveys conducted by the US were based on previous work by the Soviets during their occupation.

One can now be sure that there will be no hurried rush for the US to leave the country. Afghanistan may not be awash with black gold but it has the next best thing in rare metals and mineral resources.

But the UK is, according to Liam Fox, going to conduct an ‘unsentimental’ and ‘ruthless’ review of its armed forces raising the prospect of a withdrawal from Afghanistan next year. He hopes that our actions will have left a "stable enough Afghanistan to allow the Afghan people to manage their own internal and external security".

Let’s hope that our sacrifice of young lives and the money it cost will not be forgotten in any upcoming deals regarding the exploitation of this mineral wealth. Let’s also hope that this means they can cut back on poppy growing for drug production.

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