After a SAIL-led consortium was selected by Afghanistan government to develop its rich Hajigak mines, another consortium led by the PSU is bidding for copper and gold reserves in the mineral-rich country, Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma said today.
"...After execution of the contract [Hajigak], the consortium would move ahead with exploration & geological studies... SAIL-led another consortium is also bidding for copper and gold reserves in Afghanistan," an official release by the Steel Ministry quoting Verma said.
Verma met Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai yesterday during his visit there and discussed various aspects of bilateral cooperation and mutual development.
SAIL-led consortium and Afghanistan government are likely to ink a final pact in May to develop Hajigak iron ore mines and set up steel and power plants there.
The consortium that also includes state-owned NMDC and RINL and private sector steel players JSW, JSW Ispat, JSPL, and Monnet Steel and Power has already won the mining rights for three blocks at Hajigak in November 2011, that are said to contain 1.28 billion tonnes of rich reserves.
The final agreement will entitle SAIL-led consortium Afisco (Afghan Iron and Steel Consortium) to explore, develop and exploit the Hajigak deposits.
After winning the bid in last November, SAIL Chairman CS Verma had said the consortium plans to set up a 6.12 million tonne per annum steel plant, subject to Afghan government making available linkages for coking coal and limestone, an 800 MW power plant and build necessary infrastructure for $10.8 billion.
SAIL has the maximum 20% stake in Aifsco, while NMDC and RINL each hold a stake of 18%. Private players JSW Steel and JSPL hold 16% each, while JSW Ispat and Monnet Ispat & Energy hold 8% and 4%, respectively.
Afghanistan and India on April 9 had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for mutual cooperation in the area of iron and steel.
Verma termed the MoU as a significant measure aimed at strengthening ties with Afghanistan and boosting socio - economic restructuring of the country and termed it as "a measure of encouraging investments by public and private sector Indian companies in Afghan Iron and Steel and other allied sectors".
India has undertaken many projects in Afghanistan in the areas of hydro-electric power, power transmission, road construction, industry, telecommunications, information and broadcasting and capacity building.
"Besides, the Government of India is already exploring the possibility of developing a new route from the port of Chah Bahar on the Gulf to Kandahar-Herat highway of Afghanistan leading to Central Asia which would boost trade in the region and guarantee benefits to all the stakeholders," the statement said.