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Chinese Companies Begin Lithium Mining Exploration in Afghanistan

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EIRNS—On Nov. 23, Global Times reports that, “after coordination between the China Arab Economic and Trade Promotion Committee in Kabul and Afghanistan’s mining ministry, representatives of five Chinese companies obtained special visas and arrived in Afghanistan early in November to conduct on-site inspections of potential lithium mining projects.” This marks “a concrete initial step in potential cooperation in developing one of Afghanistan’s biggest mineral deposits,” says GT.

Added to this, “at least 20 Chinese state-owned and private companies have also made inquiries about lithium projects,” Gao Susu, a staffer at the China Arab Economic and Trade Promotion Committee, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

During meetings and official statements, Taliban officials expressed a welcoming attitude toward Chinese companies, as they seek to rebuild the war-torn country. “Chinese officials have also extended helping hands to the Afghan people by providing humanitarian aid and resuming certain trade channels, including for pine nuts.”

Just on Saturday, a freight train loaded with more than 1,000 tons of humanitarian aid departed from Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, bound for Afghanistan. Amid the friendly ties, interest in Afghanistan’s mining sector is also growing among Chinese firms, including projects involving copper and lithium, given the massive deposits estimated to be worth as much as $1 trillion. In terms of lithium, a critical but scarce resource for batteries and other technologies, Afghanistan could rival Bolivia, which currently has the world’s biggest known reserves, according to a CNN report. [kav]

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