Natural Resources

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Despite a lengthy history of small-scale mining of gems, gold, copper, and coal, systematic exploration of Afghanistan's mineral resources did not begin until the 1960s. In the 1970s Afghanistan was discovered to have a wide variety of mineral resources, but only coal, iron ore, copper ore, and gemstones were targeted for development. Natural gas fields are scattered throughout much of Afghanistan. Recent analysis by the United States Geological Survey has indicated significant unexploited oil reserves in the north as well. After their invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the Soviets endeavored to export some of the country's resources to the USSR. Natural gas, for example, was exported by pipeline across the Amu Darya into the USSR in the 1980s. Ongoing hostilities, however, severely hampered this effort and finally cut off the natural gas export. By the mid-1990s there was little mineral or oil and gas extraction.

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