Afghanistan is the world’s largest unexploited reserves of copper, coal, cobalt, mercury, gold, and lithium, valued at US$1 trillion. Its rare-earth metals may be worth even more.
The place doesn’t have reserves. Because no one has done the work to prove they can be extracted at a profit. Which is the definition of a reserve.
The idea that the rare earths are worth – possibly – more than a trillion is just outright lunacy. Let’s value that concentrate at $20 a kg. Far more than reality – maybe 10x some time prices. OK. So, world currently uses 150k tonnes a year. So, we’ve a $3 billion a year market then (this is closer to the value of the refined market than the raw concentrate but hell, let’s give ’em a lot of room).
150,000 x 1,000 x $20 is $3 billion, right?
At which point we’re going to value deposits, in the ground, before mining let alone separation, at over a trillion $?
Sure, sure, growing market, turn the world green and it’s still fucking insane.
BTW, in 2009 concentrate was more like $2 a kg……it’s the separation that adds another $20 a kg to the costs. Separation costs obviously depress the value of concentrate……