The Afghan government has awarded the rights to develop three blocks of the huge Hajigak iron ore concession in central Afghanistan to a consortium led by the Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL), an official at the ministry of mines said on Monday. Policy director Abdul Jalil Jumriany said rights to a fourth block at the deposit had been won by Canada's Kilo Goldmines Ltd, which is chiefly active in Africa and has previously worked in joint venture with Rio Tinto Mining and Exploration.
"B C and D blocks have been awarded to the Indian consortium and block A has been awarded to the Canadians" Jumriany told Reuters. The AFISCO consortium of Indian steel and mining firms led by SAIL announced in September it was bidding for the Hajigak concession which has the potential to be Afghanistan s single biggest foreign investment project.
SAIL chairman CS Verma said he had heard from media reports the consortium had received three out of four blocks, but had no official confirmation of the news. He said the estimated iron ore reserves in A B and C blocks were about 484 930 and 357 million tonnes respectively while D block had "small reserves."
The Ministry of Mines said it was still finalising contract details with the chosen bidders. "The development of the Hajigak (project) by Kilo and AFISCO is expected to bring billions of dollars in mining investment and thousands of new jobs to Afghanistan" it said in a statement. "The companies have also pledged substantial support for railway power and other infrastructure development within the country as well as major support for education and training programs."