Afghan miners in a makeshift emerald mine in the Panjshir Valley in 2010. Reports suggest that Afghanistan is sitting on significant deposits of oil, gas, copper, iron, gold and coal, as well as a range of precious gems like emeralds and rubies. Currently these minerals are largely untapped and are still being mapped.
Credit Majid Saeedi / Getty Images
Hesco barriers and concertina wire surround the living quarters of the Chinese-owned Ainak copper mine in Logar, Afghanistan, in 2011.
Credit Benjamin Lowy / Getty Images
Afghan miners work a coal mine some 60 miles east of the western city of Herat, Afghanistan, in 2010.
Afghanistan faces the daunting prospect of a drastic reduction in foreign aid, which currently makes up about 90 percent of the country's revenue. Some have seen an economic life raft in geological surveys that indicate huge deposits of copper, iron, uranium and lithium in various parts of the country. But multinational mining firms have been slow to invest in Afghanistan — not least because of questions about stability after American troops draw down.