Gold in an Infamous Stan


“Stan” is an Indo-Iranian suffix that means Land, added to a state name to identify which land is it. An ancient and large ethnic group lives in the land of deserts and mountains on the ancient Silk Road, not as a part of Persia, and not as a part if India. This land was either part of the Persian Empire, the Indian Empires, or formed their own empires in these harsh lands between Persia and India. The people how lived there were called “Afghans” or Pashtun people. Thus, this land was given the name “Afghanistan”.

The Land of Afghans

Maybe it wasn’t the most well-known or the largest Stan country during the past century, but it gained a fame made it well known to the world in the past three decades. In the past, it was a nation only matter to its neighbors, Iran and India. But the soviet invasion in 1979 raised the tension in Washington dramatically. The Americans saw use of the Islamic patriots seeking to free their lands form the Russians, making a perfect proxy war with their persistent rival. President Reagan spared no expense in financing and training local Muslim fighters, and gradually turning them into armed zealots. The war with Russia ended and left a country controlled by armed fanatics! The infamous Taliban came into power spreading more terrors, and exploding in 2001. In the 9th September 2001, Taliban’s Enemy was assassinated, and 2 days later, the September 11 attacks in the US.

I guess every-body knows what happened after September 11. The US declared war on terrorism in general, and started with Afghanistan. The US army was holding ground in Afghanistan till god-knows-when, until president Obama agreed with the Afghani President Karzai to determine the pace of withdrawing troops by the end of 2014. Maybe the US “invasion” wasn’t just a redemption their past mistakes in arming and fueling zealots, or fighting terrorism overseas to protect the safety of the US citizen. This assumption might be true especially after the United States Geological Survey (USGS) compiled data around 1,079 mines with 112 of them are gold mines.

Gold Potential in the Forgotten Land

Historically, these lands were rich with gold, but it was always mined by artisanal miners. But these lands have never been evaluated in the light of modern and up-dated techniques. There are well-known gold deposits such as Vekadur, Chilkonshar and Samti to the north and Zarkashan to the south, north-east of Kandahar. There is a great potential for the country to hold untapped gold deposits.

The first documented discoveries dates to the 60s and 70s. These were soviet studies that identified to main prospective regions. In 1980, Afghanistan Geological Survey (AGS) published a compilation of mining prospective from 1958 to 1977. There are no less than 100 gold prospective in each study.

Some interesting prospective deposits appeared in these studies. To mention an interesting example of these future gold mines; a quartz vein that belongs geologically to early carboniferous vein hosted in volcanic rocks is discovered. The amount of gold in contains range from 12.3 to 84.9 grams of gold per ton! Note that the famous gold mines working in Africa operates on 1 to 2 grams of gold per ton.

These studies were focused only on gold. There is even greater potential of rare mineral deposits and copper. This land was literally hidden in the mountains and sitting on gold. The problem is how to get it out under these harsh circumstances? There is no infrastructure, the land is a forsaken desert and rough mountains and the populace aren’t so welcoming. The fate of this gold must be clear before attempting to extract it. This land is suffering and the people deserve some prosperity after Taliban was defeated. A mine there could stretch a road, and provide power and water to the depriving country. The western world sings and recites human rights every day and every night; there is a chance ahead in Afghanistan, will the world turn another blind-eye to this land?