Don't Panic!: Is it good to live in a country with mineral wealth?

Image In 2006, American geologists began conducting surveys to figure out if Afghanistan had any significant mineral wealth. The deposits they eventually discovered are way more than a mother lode.

I’m not up on my mining slang, so I don’t know the precise slang one is supposed to use to indicate a mineral deposit larger than a mother lode. A maternity ward lode? A crowded OB/GYN waiting room lode? A mall restaurant happy hour with a half-off Pinot Grigio MILF special lode?

What exactly did the geologists find? Enough iron and copper to make Afghanistan one of the largest exporters of both. Enough gold to blingee all of south and central Asia. And enough niobium to do a lot of whatever the heck niobium does. (Writer Googles niobium and determines it's used for metal alloys in jet and rocket engines, as well as MRI machines. Writer is more-than-willing to “Bing” instead of “Google” in future columns, if Microsoft gives him an xbox 360.)

Our nosey geologists seem most excited about the vast sea of lithium baked into the earth underneath Afghanistan’s Ghazni province. Early indications suggest it’s one of, if not the biggest lithium deposit in the world.

Lithium is indispensable to modern life. Psychiatrists rely on it to treat severe mood disorders. Electronics makers rely on it as the key ingredient in rechargeable batteries. The original Star Trek crew relied on it for the dilithium crystals that powered the Enterprise to speeds faster than light. And Nirvana relied on it as the fifth song on its seminal Nevermind album.

You see, without “Lithium,” Nevermind would have gone straight from song four (“Breed”) to song six (“Polly”) which have wrecked the flow. No lithium, no entire 1990s. Think about it.

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