KABUL, November 18 (Online): The US-based
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has confirmed the
existence of gas reserves in northern and southwestern Afghan regions.

The NASA also hinted at the existence of
copper and gold reserves in the central Logar province and fuel
reserves near Amo River, a senior official claimed.

Afghan Mines and Industries Minister Mir
Mohammad Siddique told a news conference here: "We were earlier unaware
of the natural gas, copper and fuel reserves discovered by NASA." An
agreement on exploring these reserves involving US$17 million was
signed between the Afghan mines minister and former US ambassador
Zalmay Khalilzad in Kabul last year.

The NASA launched its work of exploring
the natural resources by taking aerial pictures of the mines. The
minister said the US agency had provided him a map showing
Afghanistan`s different mines.

He added there were gas mines in Balkh,
Faryab, Badghis and Jawzjan, Farah and Helmand while copper and gold
reserves were found in Logar. He said the exploration had shown fuel
reserves on both sides of Amo River.

Siddiqui continued the government wanted
to buy modern equipment for excavating the sites. "We have contacted
the Asian Development Bank, which has pledged to give us funds for the
purchase of modern excavation tools." The government planned to hand
over the mines to private companies, he said, revealing the US$33
billion copper reserves in Logar would be leased out to a firm.

Also, there are mines of precious stones in Afghanistan and the US has promised to help in their excavation and cutting.

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