Steel giants like Tatas, SAIL may jointly bid for Afghan mines

PTI New Delhi | Updated on January 07, 2011 Published on January 07, 2011

The fourth coke oven battery of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant .-K.R. Deepak   -  Businessline

Steel giants like the Tatas, Essar and SAIL are likely to put in bids for the Hajigak mines in Afghanistan, which contain an estimated 1.8 billion tonnes of iron ore deposits, but may also form a consortium for the purpose.

The war-torn country has invited an Expression of Interest (EoI) to develop the mine, which it said is a part of huge “proven” reserves worth an estimated $3 trillion.

“Major steel players like the Tatas, Essar, SAIL, Jindal and others have evinced interest in bidding for the Hajigak mines in Afghanistan. They may either bid jointly or may proceed independently as well” Mines Secretary Mr S Vijay Kumar told PTI on Friday.

Another official of the Mines Ministry said that around 15 firms have so far evinced interest in the project and have already initiated talks with the Afghan government.

Mines Minister Mr B K Handique said the ministry would offer all assistance and help to the Indian companies in collaboration with the Ministry of External Affairs for the proposed venture.

Afghanistan has invited EoIs for multiple exploration concessions falling within the Hijigak mines, which closes on January 13. The selected bidder will be granted concessions under Afghan Mineral Law.

The need to form a consortium was felt in view of the huge investment requirement for developing the mines and creation of basic infrastructure there.

Earlier, Afghan Mines Minister Mr Wahidullah Shahrani had said a number of Indian companies - including Essar, Indian-origin ArcelorMittal, Jindals and Tatas - had showed their interest in developing the assets. Mr Shahrani had met his Indian counterpart last November.

“We will encourage Indian mining companies to mine the reserves there and set up steel plants. They can mine up to 20 million tonnes per annum and they would be allowed to export because we have got huge reserves of 20 billion tonnes of iron ore,” Mr Shahrani had told PTI.

The two countries are also working toward a Memorandum of Understanding for collaborating in the mining sector.

Keen to attract investment in the sector, Afghanistan had earlier said it would issue tenders for other mining reserves to propel economic growth of the developing country.

The country has large deposits of high-grade iron ore, copper and rare earth metals like lithium, gold and coal.

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Published on January 07, 2011
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