An Afghan explorer has found the deposits of same rare metals like Lithium, Tantalum, Niobium & Caesium. These metals have many uses. For instance; Lithium is used in batteries, glass, the ceramics industry and aircrafts. Tantalum is used in the production of capacitors which is used in laptops, computers, mobile phones & digital cameras. Primarily, Niobium is used in special steel but it is also used with Tantalum as they both share same chemical properties.
These deposits occur in three main deposit types:
- Mineralized springs
- Playa Lake Sediments
Among these types, mineralised springs & playas lake are potentially more significant as extracting rare metals from these resources is quite easy.
In Afghanistan there are three main types of mineralised springs; nitrous & sulphurous springs, mineralised springs and water springs. The deposits of mineralised springs are mainly found in the west of Kabul. This zone has a unique thermal water basin from where more than 30 spring discharge. These springs have high concentration of Li, Rb, Cs, B & Ge,which have significant market value. Some Soviet analysis had reported high concentration of Li, Rb, Cs & B in the springs near the Namakab River in the sub-zone of Qala-Gorband-Turkman. Through this analysis it has been estimated that these springs discharge 3,153 kg of Li, 630 Kg of Rb, 630 Kg of Cs & 38,700 Kg of BO2 annually. These springs are also enriched with other metals like Be, As & Fe.
Just like mineralised springs, huge numbers of playa lake deposits have also been found in this landlocked region. As per reports in the province of Takhar the salt deposit in Lake Sar-i-Namak contains 0.02% of Li whereas in Lake Brine the Li content is 350Mg/L & it also has boron content. On the other hand Lake Ab-i-Estoda which is 100 km long and contains more than 1% boron. This shows that this lake of Ghazni province has enormous resources of boron which demands further studies. Another Lake, Namaksar-Herat Lake which is located in Herat province contains huge level of Li & B.
The main Pegmatite deposits are found in the east of the country while few small numbers of deposits can also be found in the south central region of Afghanistan. The main deposit of Tantalum and Niobium can be found in Lagman Province and in Badakhsan which do have great economic potential.
These studies clearly depicts that Afghanistan is the country who have enormous resources of some of the rare metals in the form of pegmatites, mineralised springs & Playa Lake Sediments. This can be attractive for mining companies as it can give great economic benefits to these organisations. Since the withdrawal of Soviet Forces, no modern systematic exploration has been done in this region. Now it is necessitated that further investigation should be done in these localities with the use of modern models and techniques so that these materials could be extracted and new resources could be found.