This section summarises some of the other metals that have been discovered in Afghanistan. For convenience, they have been divided into four sub-groups. Tin is used mainly to coat other metals, or as an alloy, whereas tungsten is used for filaments in electric lamps as well as in the mining and petroleum industries. Mercury is used in laboratory and electrical apparatus, as well as the dental industry and uranium is widely used in the nuclear industry.
Other metals in Afghanistan
There are currently a total of 121 records of these metals in the Afghan mineral occurrence database. Most exploration was completed in the 1960s and 70s and as such these deposits should be reviewed in the light of new geological models, to determine their commercial viability, as well as to assist in the search for additional resources.
Tin and tungsten deposits occur mostly in western and south-eastern Afghanistan and are typically skarn, fault-zone or pegmatite related (pegmatites are discussed in a separate section). The Misgaran tin skarn deposit in Herat province is located at the contact between an Oligocene granite and Cretaceous sediments. Tin grades up to 6% have been identified, but the average is probably much less. The Farah tungsten-copper skarn-related deposits (up to 1.86% W) in Farah province also merit further exploration. Tin-tungsten mineralisation has also been identified in the East-Central region.
Thirty three occurrences of cinnabar are known across west-central Afghanistan and are probably related to Tertiary magmatism during the Himalayan Orogeny, as for example at Kharnak in Ghor province. Although mercury grades are low, the associated mineral assemblage (including realgar and stibnite) would support further exploration for epithermal-style precious metal mineralisation.
Uranium and rare earths
There are two main areas prospective for uranium in Afghanistan that warrant further exploration. Arguably the more interesting is the Khanneshin carbonatite volcanic complex in Helmand Province. This is a Lower Quaternary domal structure with an intrusive carbonatite core 4 km across. Preliminary exploration has identified zones with rare earth enrichment and veinlets with bright yellow uraninite. Although this is the only carbonatite to be explored so far, other carbonatites are believed to exist in the area and a regional exploration programme is warranted. Airborne surveys in the 1970s also identified an area in Farah province, characterised by anomalous radioactivity. Little follow-up ground exploration has been conducted, although uranium minerals are reported in the area. Tertiary sandstones to the south could also act as traps to mineralisation. Other metals and styles of mineralisation have been identified in Afghanistan, including molybdenum, aluminium and manganese.
. . . preliminary exploration has identified zones with rare earth enrichment and veinlets with bright yellow uraninite . . .