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Why China is seducing Afghanistan | ticker VIEWS

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Afghanistan holds the key to an untapped trove of minerals the world needs, worth $1 trillion

Under Afghanistan soil sits an untouched quantity of minerals including copper, iron ore, lithium, and rare bauxite. These minerals could power the world’s transition to renewable energies, but the precious minerals remain unearthed.

Shortly after the capital fell to the Taliban, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry expressed willingness to build relations. Insisting Beijing is “ready to develop friendly cooperation” with Afghanistan.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, political chief of Afghanistan’s Taliban, July 28, 2021.

Untouched minerals

A report by the US Geological Survey has proven the valuable minerals hidden within the Afghanistan mountains are more valuable than anywhere else in the world currently.

Copper is valuable in making power cables, and prices are sitting at more than $10, 000 per tonne. Lithium is a vital element that helps to make electric car batteries, wind farms, and solar panels.

Now, with the world transitioning to net-zero emissions targets the demand for Lithium will only increase. The International Energy Agency is predicting it will grow by over 40 times by 2040.

These untapped minerals have been estimated at over $1 trillion by the US Geological Survey, but Afghanistan values it three times this amount. The country also mines coal, iron, and marble.

Over the last 20 years, the Taliban hasn’t had enough power or financial support to tap into these highly sought-after minerals. This could set them high on the world’s economic chart.

Now, as they resume power, questions need to be raised over China’s interest in building a relationship and willingness to do business with the Taliban.

The state-owned China Metallurgical Group Corporation won rights to lease the giant Mes Aynak copper ore deposit in Afghanistan for 30 years. This allows them to extract 11.5 million tonnes of the commodity.

The project hasn’t started operations yet because of safety issues.

China’s diplomatic and economic motives in Afghanistan

While the rest of the world is shocked and frightened of the Taliban takeover, questions remain over China’s economic motives and diplomatic interests in the region.

“Afghanistan has a large supply of rare earth elements, China wants to secure these.”

Dr. John Coyne, The Australian Strategic Policy Institute

“Already 80% of the global market of rare earths is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, so it’s critical for the Chinese Government to secure this supply.”

Dr. John Coyne, Australian Strategic Policy Institute 

“China and Russia are looking at Afghanistan as a gold rush but it’s also going to be a continuing counterterrorism threat”

Oz Sultan, Counterterrorism analyst

Building an alliance

Another reason for China’s interest in building relations, its to protect itself from future terror attacks.

Dr. Teagan Westendorf from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, questions whether China will take the risk and step up as the main financier, now that the US has withdrawn.

Becoming a vital financial aid to the region, could build a strong alliance and prevent future terror groups or attacks spilling onto Chinese soil.

A shared regional problem

Dr. Westendorf says Afghanistan is a concern for all of its neighbouring countries including Russia, India, and China.

“Afghanistan has become a shared regional problem and it’s something that I don’t think that any of these countries will be able to wash their hands from it. It will affect them geostrategically.” 

Dr. Teagan Westendorf, Australian Strategic Policy Institute

 

Holly is an anchor and reporter at Ticker. She's experienced in live reporting, and has previously covered the Covid-19 pandemic on-location. She's passionate about telling stories in business, climate and health.

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NASA confirms Odysseus lunar aircraft tipped over after failed moon landing

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NASA has confirmed that the first privately owned spacecraft to land on the moon, named Odysseus, has tipped over onto its side after a failed landing.

Despite the setback, the spacecraft is reported to be “alive and well.”

Initial data received by Intuitive Machines, the company behind the spacecraft, indicated that Odysseus had successfully landed with all six feet on the lunar surface.

However, subsequent updates revealed that the lander is now laying on its side on the lunar landscape.

According to CEO Steve Altemus, the mishap occurred when one of the lander’s legs became caught, causing it to tip over onto a rock.

This unexpected turn of events occurred a day after what was initially confirmed as a soft landing.

Solar power

While laying on its side has hindered radio transmission and potentially impacted the craft’s ability to receive solar power, Altemus reassured during a press conference that much of Odysseus’ operating abilities remain intact.

“We do have communications with the lander,” Altemus stated, noting that commands are still being sent to the vehicle.

Efforts are underway to obtain the first photo images from the lunar surface at the landing site.

Despite the setback, Intuitive Machines expressed confidence in Odysseus’ overall performance.

Mission director Tim Crain highlighted the spacecraft’s flawless flight to the moon, during which it utilized a propulsion fuel of liquid methane and liquid oxygen for the first time in space.

The journey to the lunar surface was not without its challenges, as a problem with the lander’s navigation system emerged during the final approach and descent. Ground engineers had to implement an untested workaround at the last minute to ensure a safe landing.

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Policeman charged with murdering TV presenter and his boyfriend

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A major update in the disappearance of a Channel 10 presenter and his Qantas flight attendant boyfriend, as a police officer with connections to the missing couple has been charged with two counts of murder.

NSW Police have released footage of constable Beau Lamarre-Condon handing himself in to Bondi police station.

Beau Lemarre, 28, a former celebrity blogger turned NSW Police officer, surrendered to authorities on Friday morning, following a frantic overnight search.

The charges stem from the mysterious disappearance of Lemarre’s ex-boyfriend, Jesse Baird, and Baird’s partner, Luke Davies, who were last seen on Monday.

Jesse Baird and Luke Davies are pictured.

Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty confirmed the charges, stating, “Charges have been submitted for two counts of murder.”

He further added that Lemarre is expected to be formally denied bail and brought before the court.

Jesse Baird on the set of Studio 10

Police weapon

Police allege that Lemarre used his service weapon to fatally shoot Baird and Davies at Baird’s home in Paddington on Monday night.

The bodies have yet to be found, but evidence collected at the crime scene, including bloodstained clothes discovered near a skip-bin in Cronulla, and a projectile matched to a NSW Police firearm, have led investigators to pursue charges against Lemarre.

Beau Lemarre, 28, a NSW Police officer and ex-celebrity blogger

A white van believed to be connected to the disappearance was located on Friday morning, prompting authorities to intensify their search efforts.

However, the whereabouts of Baird and Davies remain unknown.

The couple’s disappearance has sent shockwaves through the community, with friends expressing concern for their safety.

According to reports, Baird had previously voiced fears of being stalked, adding a layer of complexity to the investigation.

Police are searching for a white van (pictured) they believe was being driven by Mr Lamarre. It was captured on CCTV (pictured) driving past the couple in Paddington on Monday night

Major crime scene

Police sealed off a street in Lambton, Newcastle, located 165km away from the Paddington crime scene, on Friday after a white van matching the description of the one being sought was spotted in Karoola Road near Lambton Pool.

Local residents reported a heavy police presence in the area, with streets cordoned off and officers conducting door-to-door inquiries.

“There’s cops everywhere, walking the streets, door knocking,” said one resident.

“Got the road closed past the pool,” they added.

Another resident mentioned, “The park is taped off with police tape up near the bowling club and lots of police are walking the park at the moment.”

It is suspected that Beau Lamarre-Condon, the individual charged in connection with the disappearance, may have driven the van, registered as CW82PM, to a residence in the Newcastle suburb where it was sighted around 10pm the previous night. However, by 2am, the van had vanished again.

Prior to becoming a police officer, Lamarre-Condon was a celebrity blogger

These significant developments occurred after Lamarre-Condon’s phone showed signs of activity shortly before his arrest.

He had evaded authorities following the launch of a manhunt for the missing couple, after it was revealed that he was Jesse Baird’s ex-boyfriend.

Prior to his tenure with the NSW Police, Lamarre-Condon was known as a celebrity blogger, famous for capturing selfies with prominent figures such as Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga.

His entry into law enforcement in 2019 was not without controversy, as he garnered attention for tasering a man in the face during an arrest, which was captured on camera.

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Generative AI is threatening to kill off original music

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From original sounds to entire songs, generative AI is sparking debates on the future of the music industry.

Generative artificial intelligence can already produce original sounds, lyrics, and entire songs on its own.

So, as the new technology continues to develop, will AI mean the death of original music, or herald a new era of creativity?

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