MANILA, Philippines, Sept. 26 (UPI) -- The Asian Development Bank announced it approved of $754 million in new financing to help link Afghanistan's mineral and energy sector to the region.
The ADB approval brings the organization's total contribution to reconstruction in Afghanistan to more than $2 billion during the past decade. The funding is in part for construction of a major rail link and electrical transmission lines that would run from Uzbekistan to Kabul.
Juan Miranda, ADB director general for Central and West Asia, said rail links to mineral centers in Afghanistan would brighten the economic outlook for the war-torn nation.
"With the development of modern road, rail and energy networks, Afghanistan is poised to reap the benefits of its strategic location and become a pivotal crossroads for trade and commerce in the region," he said.
Afghanistan is examining its mineral wealth potential in an effort to rebuild its economy after several decades of war. More than 1 million tons of rare earth minerals were discovered recently in less than 1 square mile of Helmand province in Afghanistan.
The ADB-funded projects are part of the so-called new Silk Road in the region. It includes a natural gas pipeline that would from Turkmenistan, through Afghanistan, Pakistan and into India.