SPREMBERG, Germany, April 12 (UPI) -- Precious metals worth billions of dollars are buried in the eastern German state of Brandenburg, with an international company planning to start mining them.
The Lausitz in eastern Brandenburg, near the border with Poland, is an economically desperate region. Once a coal country famous for huge strip mines, virtually all the mines were closed after German reunification in 1990. People left for western Germany to look for jobs or stayed behind to live off unemployment aid.
Those who left should consider returning as experts expect a natural resource boom in this region.
A German daughter of mining company Minera S.A. -- founded in Panama but led from Washington -- last week unveiled its plans to mine for copper near the city of Spremberg, creating up to 5,000 jobs in the process.
An estimated 2 million tons of copper can be extracted from the Lausitz earth, Minera's German daughter KSL said after test drills.
Under current market prices, these resources would be worth more than $15 billion. And the Lausitz earth holds even more precious metals, including gold, silver, platinum, lithium and palladium, experts say.
The Lausitz reservoirs, which stretch into Poland, have been known since the 1970s. Yet former communist East Germany had no money to build a mine and, after unification, prices for copper were so low that the reservoir was left untouched.
This has been changing. Copper is now in high demand. Around 150 pounds of the metal are built into a modern hybrid car and it's also used in cell phones, solar photovoltaic modules and wind power units -- products with promising futures.
KSL drilled several test rigs reaching more than half a mile below the surface, unearthing even larger copper finds than anticipated.
Excited by the new find, the company last week announced its plan to invest around $1 billion in mining in the region, creating around 1,500 permanent jobs at the mine and 3,500 additional positions with employers throughout the region.
"Mining engineers to build the shafts, mechanical engineers to build the machines in the mine and operate them," Wolfgang Krueger, the head of a local industry association, told Berlin newspaper Berliner Morgenpost. "This is a real boost for the region."
Mining the 9-mile-long, 1.7-mile-wide and 8.2-feet-strong reservoir could start as early as 2016 and last for several decades, KSL said.