Afghanistan is set to sign very shortly its largest mining deal entailing the single-largest foreign investment in mining ever made by an Indian business, said Wahidullah Shahrani, Minister of Mines, Afghanistan.

Addressing the media after delivering a special address at a plenary session of a global summit on mining, he said that decision on bids already received would be taken “within the next few days”. “The bid evaluation has been concluded and the concessions would be awarded in January 2013,” Mr. Shahrani said.

“As you are aware, an Indian steel consortium has won three of the four resource blocks at Hajigak, considered the largest iron ore deposit in Asia… We are expecting to sign, in the shortest term, what will be the largest mining deal in history of Afghanistan ,” Mr. Shahrani said. The total investment over the next decade at these mines would be nearly $15 billion, the minister said, adding that an updated mining law and regulations would be ready in a few weeks.

New deposits

He said that of the new deposits that would be opened up, the iron ore deposits have an annual capacity of about 0.5 million tonnes, while the copper deposits have a capacity of between 7 and 10 million tonnes. It may be mentioned that while a SAIL-led consortium won the Hajigak bid, decision is now awaited on a copper mine in which SAIL and Hindustan Copper are jointly bidding with others.