According to James Risen and Mark Landler of the New York Times, the Trump administration is "considering sending an envoy to Afghanistan to meet with mining officials" as the president is receiving encouragement from Stephen Feinberg, the billionaire head of DynCorp, and Michael Silver, the head of American Elements, a firm that specializes in "extracting rare-earth minerals."
"In 2010, American officials estimated that Afghanistan had untapped mineral deposits worth nearly $1 trillion," Risen and Landler note. This large figure reportedly "caught the attention of" the president, who has in the past argued that the biggest failure of the U.S. in Iraq was not"taking" the country's oil.
In 2006, the George W. Bush administration conducted aerial surveys of the country to map its mineral resources. Under President Barack Obama, the Pentagon set up a task force to try to build a mining industry in Afghanistan.
Eric Levitz of New YorkMagazine remarks "It's hard to win hearts and minds, when you're also trying to win minerals and mines."