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SAIL consortium gets rights to develop 3 Afghan mines

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

A seven-member consortium led by state-run Steel Authority of India (SAIL) has bagged the development right to mine three out of four iron ore reserves at Hajigak in Central Bamiyan province of Afghanistan, sources in the know said.

However, when contacted SAIL Chairman CS Verma said there was no official communication from the Afghanistan government as yet.

"We are yet to get any official communication from the government of Afghanistan. I am in touch with the embassy," Verma said.

Sources said the Indian consortium had got the rights to mine B, C and D, having reserves of 930 million tonne, 357 million tonne and 175 million tonne respectively. Mine A has gone to a Canadian firm.

The mines, located across the Hindu Kush Mountains, between Bamyan and Maidan Wardak provinces, are known for rich source of iron ore. The cumulative reserves in the four mines are estimated to be over 1.8 billion tonne.

SAIL will have the majority 20% stake in the special purpose vehicle (SPV), which is to be created for the development of the mines, while two other state-run firms - Rashtriya Ispat and NMDC - would have 18% stake each.

Private players - JSW Steel and Jindal Steel & Power will have 12% stake each in the SPV. JSW Ispat and Monnet Ispat would have the remaining between them.

The Central Bamyan province is largely peaceful. However, the Afghan government has already started construction of security posts around the mine, sources said, adding that law and order would unlikely to cause any problem to carry out the mining job.

In fact, Verma had also earlier said he would not like to think security could be a concern as development stands always atop over terrorism. The $6 billion likely investment by the Indian firms would also be a boon for the cash-strapped and war-ravaged Afghanistan.

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First Published: Mon, November 28 2011. 20:37 IST