According to a global mineral resource assessment led by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Central Asia Salt Basin of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan has the potential to contain between 39 and 54 billion metric tons of undiscovered potash resources.
Known potash resources in the Central Asia Salt Basin consist of 1.63 billion metric tons, according to a news release by USGS.
The release further added that Central Asia Salt Basin hosts significant discovered potash resources and originated in an inland sea during Late Jurassic time.
“Seawater flowed into the Basin, mostly from its extreme northwestern margin near the modern Caspian Sea, during several evaporation episodes that deposited at least five different packages of evaporites, with virtually all potash in the second and fourth packages,” USGS said.
USGS also added “In this study, the Central Asia Salt Basin was subdivided into three tracts, also known as permissive areas, for evaluation: the Amu Darya tract in the west, the Gissar tract in the center, and the Afghan-Tajik tract in the east. The Gissar and Amu Darya tracts were each quantitatively assessed. The Afghan‑Tajik tract was only qualitatively assessed because of the extreme depth (as deep as 7 km) of the Jurassic salt, extensive deformation and a lack of known potash deposits.”
Potash is produced worldwide at amounts exceeding 30 million metric tons per year, mostly for use in fertilizers. The term “potash” refers to potassium-bearing, water-soluble salts derived from evaporite basins, where seawater dried up and precipitated various salt compounds; the word for the element “potassium” is derived from potash. In fact, industry uses potash to refer to potassium chloride, as well as potassium sulfate, nitrate, and oxide forms.
Afghanistan’s mineral resources were valued at $908 billion by U.S. Department of Defense’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO) in 2010. However, Afghan government’s estimate is $3 trillion.
The resources provide the potential for Afghanistan to develop its economy, to create jobs and build infrastructure, as it goes into the future and lift Afghanistan out of poverty and fight crime and terrorism.