The base metals copper, lead and zinc are essential for the development of today's technology-driven society. They have widespread uses, particularly in the transport and communication industries and the growth of the Asian economy is likely to ensure continued high demand. As such, Afghanistan is well placed to mine and export these commodities.
Base metals in Afghanistan
A brochure on the potential for copper in Afghanistan has been produced by BGS and can be downloaded by clicking here.
The Afghan Copper Belt
The Afghan Copper Belt is situated in the Kabul and Logar provinces and stretches over a length of 600 km. It is host to three known copper deposits and a further 35 occurrences. The best known deposit, and indeed the most explored in Afghanistan, is the Aynak deposit. Worked for over 2000 years, exploration by Russian geologists was conducted between 1973 and 1988 and resulted in the identification of drill indicated resources of 240 Mt, grading 2.3% Cu, for a total of 10 560 M lbs Cu, in three separate zones. A feasibility study completed in 1978 suggested that about one quarter of the deposit would be amenable to openpitting and favoured the building of a smelter on-site. The two other deposits identified in the belt are the Darband (to the east of Aynak) and Jawkar (to the north of Aynak) deposits. Although very close to Aynak, these deposits do show some differences and more exploration will be necessary to understand the full geological history of the copper belt. However, comparisons with the Zambian Copper Belt make this area extremely prospective and more exploration is warranted across the entire belt.
A brochure on the Aynak copper deposit has been produced by BGS and can be downloaded by clicking here.
Related to the gold deposits and occurrences in the Ghazni and Zabul provinces are a number of prospects with significant copper mineralisation. The best studied of these is the Kundalyan skarn-type deposit, which has been estimated to contain C1+C2 resources of 47 M lbs Cu, averaging 1.21% and 51 000 oz Au, at 0.9 g/t. This deposit highlights the prospectivity of this area, not just for skarn-type mineralisation, but also porphyry-style.
To date, no economically significant lead-zinc deposits have been identified but a number of occurrences require further work, including the Nalbandan fault-related deposit where approximately 2 Mt has been identified grading 6.64% Zn+Pb. The highgrade Darra-i-Nur (grading up to 22% Zn) and Kalai-Assad (Bibi Gauhar) (averaging 30.4% Zn) skarn deposits in east-central Afghanistan further reinforce the prospectivity of this area.
. . . the Afghan Copper Belt is host to three known copper deposits and a further 35 occurrences . . .