Some stunning news out of Afghanistan. The place is a treasure trove for gold, iron, copper, cobalt and lithium. United States geologists have determined that there may be a trillion dollars worth of minerals in the war torn country. So we aren’t just there for the opium producing poppy fields after all?

This news comes after another week of increased violence and more diplomatic gaffs. Fighting in the Kandahar province, a stronghold for the Taliban insurgency. NATO’s commander, U.S. General Stanley McChrystal, predicts a long summer of fighting. The U.S. has doubled it’s troop strength since last summer, as well as tripling the number of Special Forces personnel.

The Obama Administration sent signals last week that they expect to begin withdrawing forces by next summer. This just increased uneasiness in the fledgling, and corrupt Afghanistan government. President Harmi Karzai has already drawn criticism for statements about negotiating with Taliban leaders, as well as for defending his brother, who is suspected of being deeply involved in the country’s opium trade.

Meanwhile, many are licking their chops over the geology survey. An internal Pentagon memo calls Afghanistan, the “Saudi Arabia of lithium”, a key mineral in for high-tech batteries. General David Petraeus said, “There is stunning potential here. There are lots of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant.”

Some of those “ifs” are having a stable government and peaceful enough society to attract investment in mining, plus developing the road and rail system needed to get the ore from land-locked Afghanistan to a sea port for exporting. The U.S. involvement in war in Afghanistan is close to reaching it’s ninth year, with no real end in sight. The discovery of an estimated $1 Trillion dollars worth of gold, iron, copper, cobalt and lithium mineral deposits may raise the stakes in continuing further military operations.