Although Armenia was one of the first places where humans smelted iron, copper is the most important raw material mined there today. Deposits of zinc, molybdenum, gold, silver, bauxite, obsidian, and semiprecious stones, as well as marble, granite, and other building materials, are also present. Significant expansion is believed possible in the exploitation of most of those materials, which until the mid-1990s had been largely untouched. Some oil deposits have been identified, but the complex geology of the region makes recovery difficult and expensive. In 1993 an American expedition tentatively identified further deposits of natural gas and oil, but exploitation was not expected for several years.
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