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December 7, 2017
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince wants to privatize the U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan, but apparently he's also very interested in the country's rare minerals. On Thursday, BuzzFeed News published Prince's 19-page plan to end America's longest war, which involves sending private contractors and U.S. special forces to fight alongside and train Afghan soldiers.

But while Prince's push to privatize the war in Afghanistan has been well-documented, the presentation published by BuzzFeed News is the first instance of Prince explicitly highlighting his interest in the country's potential mineral wealth. In his pitch, Prince claims that there are over $1 trillion worth of rare minerals buried in Afghanistan, which his security forces would extract in order to "restore [the] U.S. high tech manufacturing supply chain." Prince additionally claims that mining would provide employment for Afghans and would break "the negative security economic cycle."

Earlier this year, Prince began his public push to convince President Trump to let his company take over the Afghanistan war, focusing on the conflict's high costs and only mentioning the country's mineral resources in passing. Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon and senior adviser Jared Kushner reportedly tried to talk Defense Secretary James Mattis into considering the proposal, but Mattis was apparently not interested.

Trump himself reportedly learned of Afghanistan's mineral wealth in May and apparently expressed a desire to "see where the business deal is," but he ultimately backed a Pentagon proposal to increase troop levels instead.

Prince, who is the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, declined to speak to BuzzFeed News about his plan for the Afghan war. See his full plan here. Kelly O'Meara Morales