Afghanistan has become the first country in the world to have its surface minerals mapped from the air.
The U.S. Geographical Survey (USGS) mapped some 70 percent of the country using an advanced technique known as “hyperspectral imaging,” which involves using a camera to capture sunlight reflected from the ground.
Specific colors on the mineral map reflect different natural minerals as well as man-made minerals, vegetation, and snow.
USGS spokesman Alex Demas maintains that the map will make it easier to identify and estimate mineral deposits for international mining companies looking to invest in Afghanistan, which is known to have vast reserves of oil, gas, copper, cobalt, gold, and lithium.
International mining companies have made huge investments in Afghan mining in recent years.
In 2008, the China Metallurgical Group Corporation made a successful bid of $3 billion for mineral rights to the Mes Aynak site, which geologists believe has the second-largest copper reserves in the world.
That was followed by a bid from a group of Indian companies in 2011, when a deal was signed to begin mining Hajigak, the country’s largest iron ore deposit, located in the central Bamiyan Province.
The numbers being used to describe Afghanistan’s potential wealth are staggering.