According to the article, the deposits are newly discovered. A recent article in Chinamining.org, however, reports that in 2007, China signed a $3 billion deal with Afghanistan to mine copper in the country. Also, in 2007, the US Geological Survey and the Navy released a report touting the rich "undiscovered" minerals in Afghanistan. The fact that officials in the US and in other countries already knew about the minerals has led to speculation that the New York Times article is being used to raise support for the Afghanistan War, which has drawn increasing criticism.
Here is the most interesting quote in the article (in my opinion):
The Pentagon is helping Afghan officials arrange to start seeking bids on mineral rights by next fall, officials said.During the Bush presidency, anti-war demonstrators chanted "no blood for oil." Now, what will they chant? Another question: Can an occuyping force really "help" the occupied country sell its precious resources?
“The Ministry of Mines is not ready to handle this,” Mr. Brinkley said. “We are trying to help them get ready.”