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Afghanistan's untapped minerals 'worth $3 trillion'

Afghanistan's untapped mineral wealth is worth at least $3 trillion – triple a US estimate, according to the government's top mining official, who is going to Britain next week to attract investors to mine one of the world's largest iron ore deposits.

Geologists have known for decades that Afghanistan has vast deposits of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and other prized minerals, but a US Department of Defence briefing this week valued the reserves at nearly $1trn.

The Minister of Mines, Wahidullah Shahrani, said yesterday that he had seen geological assessments and industry estimates that the minerals are worth three times that.

"Afghanistan has huge untapped natural energy and mineral resources," Mr Shahrani said. "Ensuring [they are exploited] in the most transparent and efficient way while delivering the greatest value to the country is a priority of the government."