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Friday, January 28, 2011

Afghanistan shortlists 15 Indian firms for Hajigak bid

Priyadarshi Siddhanta

Posted: Thu Jan 27 2011, 01:15 hrs
New Delhi:

Enthused by the response of Indian metal and mining giants for developing the Hajigak iron ore mine in Afghanistan, the Hamid Karzai government has shortlisted 15 of them for competitive bidding process for the mine to begin soon.

A total of 22 companies had confirmed their Expression of Interests (EoI) to the Afghan government for exploring the Hajigak mine, located in the Bamiyan province of the country.

High grade iron ore reserves of the mine is estimated to be about 1.8 billion tonnes.

An estimated expenditure of about Rs 10,000 crore is required to develop the mine and its peripheral infrastructure for evacuation of the mineral.

In a letter on January 17, Afghan mines minister Wahidullah Shahrani said of the 22 firms shortlisted for the coming bidding process, 15 are Indian companies.

They include big-ticket names like maharatna Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL), navratna behemoths NMDC and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam limited, besides private sector giants like Tata, Essar, Jindal Steel and Power, Ispat, Monnet Ispat, JSW, Jindal Saw among others.

Interestingly, Iranian firms like Gol-e-Gohar Iron Ore and Behin Sanate Diba have also tendered their EoI.

In his letter, Shahrani said his ministry was in the process of finalising the bidder’s package for all the phases of the process. “It is anticipated that the bidder’s due diligence period will start around March 1, 2011 and extend at least through August 3, 2011. We appreciate your interest in the Hajigak project and look forward to receiving a competitive bid from you,” the Afghan mines minister said.

Soviet era studies reveal that the said mine was amendable to open pit mining methods. In the EoI floated recently, the Afghanistan government said it would conduct a bidding process for multiple exploration concessions, and the selected bidder would be granted mineral concessions under the Afghan Mineral Law 2010.

The Afghan government is also keen that the Indian companies set up steel and other iron ore processing plants near Hajigak. The country is believed to be sitting on over $2.5 trillion worth of untapped mineral deposits. It has huge copper mines in Balkhab and Aynak areas.

Shahrani had met Indian mines ministry officials in November last and expressed his country’s desire to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between both the nations to promote mining and end use industries back in Afghanistan.

The ministry of external affairs too has been asking the mines ministry to evaluate the response from the Indian companies.


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