A desert is just a place that has low rainfall, so the mineral resources may not be that much different than in a non-desert, right next door.
Lack of rainfall means that their are few plants, and yearly growth is slow. That in turn means there aren’t many animals.
The golden environmental and economic opportunity for a desert is … essentially … to convert it to something else. Importing water or desalinating it is nowhere near as helpful long-term as slowing the advance of dunes or plants that permanently alter the ecology.
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