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Updated: November 11, 2010 01:57 IST

Afghanistan in talks with Indian companies for investment in mining

Special Correspondent
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Wahidullah Shahrani
PTI Wahidullah Shahrani

Keen to exploit its mineral reserves, Afghanistan is holding talks with Indian companies for investing in its mines, even as it was holding road shows in New York and London to attract investment.

Wahidullah Shahrani, Minister of Mines, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, told reporters here that his government was in talks with Indian companies like Ispat, Essar, the Tatas and also Mittals and Vedanta. He said that he was optimistic that Indian companies would be able to compete in the bidding process now on for multi-billion dollar tenders for exploiting its reserves of copper, iron ore and hydrocarbons. “India is the largest consumer of iron ore and copper and we would like to receive serious bids,” he said. Mr. Shahrani was here alongwith dignitaries from several other companies and countries, on the occasion of the International Mining and Mineral Expo and the Global Mining Summit.

While the bidding process for a 2 billion tonne iron ore mine, which he said was the world's largest undeveloped mine, was now on and would attract investments of $6 billion, tenders would be floated next year for two copper mines and a huge oil deposit.

Regarding the development of railway lines in the country, he said that while the government was developing these lines through multilateral funding, it would also like mining companies to take up development of these lines while exploiting reserves of iron ore and copper. He also said that a 7,000 strong special mining protection unit has been raised to safeguard miners.

During his speech at the inaugural session, he said that the government did not make any distinction between a foreign and a domestic company. The country's mineral potential was valued at $3 trillion and included deposits of iron ore, gold, oil and gas, gemstones and copper.

Coal India Chairman P. S. Bhattacharyya said that coal imports had become necessary since demand was growing at a faster rate than production. He said that CIL had received good response to the tender that it had floated for coal offtake from international . The evaluation process was now on. He was critical of the private sector's performance in coal block development, saying that patches were being developed in a scientific manner, just on grounds of cost benefits.

Partha Sengupta, Vice-President, Raw Materials, Tata Steel, said that strong demand fundamentals of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries showed that they were likely to lead the next phase of the mining boom.

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