The Hajigak iron ore deposit, situated in the mountainous Bamyan province, 130 km west of Kabul, is one of several iron deposits within this area but is the largest located to date.

According to Afghan geological studies, the ore occurs within the Herat fault zone. An Afghan-Soviet study in the 1960s demonstrated the mineral potential of the region, and estimated the Hajigak resource (in-place) at 1.8 billion tonnes of iron ore with a concentration of approximately 62 per cent ferrous (Fe).

A feasibility study by Franco-German firm in 1972 suggested that occurrence of coking coal nearby at Shabashak made an integrated steel plant possible in the area.

Iron occurrences were observed during initial geological mapping of the area in the mid-thirties but the economical potential was not fully recognised until a joint Afghan-Soviet project, between 1963 and 1965, carried out an extensive study which mapped and described the deposit in some detail.

An Afghan Government document said: “Focusing on the western area of the deposit, the study included detailed prospecting, trenching, ore sampling, four deep drill holes, a 200-m-long horizontal adit and shafts into the fragmental ore. For two of the main ore bodies, I and II, horizontal plans and vertical cross-sections were generated allowing the ore to be resource classified”.

Although the ore bodies were thought not to extend to a great depth (below 180 metres), there is no deep drilling to confirm this.

The study focused on the western section of the ore body, but it was considered sufficient to allow a resource estimate to be calculated over the entire Hajigak deposit. These calculations were made using the Soviet system and are not easily transferred to western classifications.

The reserves of the Hajigak's A, B and C blocks, for which development rights have been awarded, have been placed based on conservative estimates of around 484, 930 and 357 million tonnes respectively. For the smaller ‘D' block no official figure but analysts said it could be around 100 million tonnes.