Previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world.
Most of the mineral resources have been known since the 1970’s. The issue has been mining and getting them to ports to ship out. Here is an article with a list of political reactions to the Afghanistan mineral report
The vast scale of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth was discovered by a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists (USGS 2007 study that only recently was released).
Estimate of Trillion Dollars in Minerals
Iron $421 Billion Copper 274 billion Nobium 81 billion Cobalt 51 billion Gold 25 billion Molybdenum 24 billion Rare Earth 7 billion Other 26 billion