Monnet Ispat and Jindal Steel have also been shortlisted by the Afghan Govt

Aluminium producer Nalco, in consortium with steel major SAIL and Hindustan Copper, will submit a bid for developing gold and copper deposits in Afghanistan this month, a top company official said on Wednesday.

The consortium of Indian PSUs is among the 25 companies/ consortia from the U.S., the U.K., Australia, Canada, the UAE, Turkey and Afghanistan that have been shortlisted by the Afghan Government in April for developing its gold and copper mines.

“We are looking at bidding in consortium with SAIL and Hindustan Copper for some copper and gold projects in Afghanistan this month,” National Aluminium Company’s (Nalco) Chairman B. L. Bagra told reporters on the sidelines of a mining conference here.

He, however, declined to comment on the proposed investments on Afghanistan’s gold and copper mines, saying that completion of bidding process takes a long time.

The deposits being examined by PSUs’ consortium includes gold and copper deposits at Zarkashan in Ghazn, at Badakhshan, and at Herat and Balkhab in Shaida districts of Afghanistan. Some time back, officials of the PSUs had also visited the sites.

Two private Indian firms — Monnet Ispat & Energy and Jindal Steel & Power — have also been shortlisted by the Afghan Government for the copper and gold mines.

The two firms had been invited to join the consortium of state-owned entities, so that a single Indian bid could be put up, Hindustan Copper’s Chairman Shakeel Ahmed had said last month.

Last year, a consortium of Indian private and public sector companies from the steel and mining sector, AFISCO, had successfully bid for developing Hajigak mines in the war-torn nation, which is considered to have 1.28 billion tonnes of iron ore. At present, it is in the process of finalising an agreement with the Afghan Government, which includes development of Hajigak mines and constructing a steel plant.

Asked about the proposed 10 per cent disinvestment of Nalco, Mr. Bagra said it was for the government to decide as the state-owned aluminium major did not require funds to meet its capital expenditure requirements.

“We have sufficient cash balance to fund our growth plans at least for next two years. This will be a divestment of the government stake per se, and the government will decide the timing, mode and all other formalities, Nalco is not part of this process,” he said.

As on March-end, government holds 87.15 per cent stake in Nalco, and the rest is with the public, including 9.13 per cent with the financial institutions.

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