Afghanistan said it’s seeking investors for four mineral deposits containing copper and gold, a week after Indian steel and mining companies announced plans to spend as much as $11 billion in the war-ravaged country.
The government is starting a tender process for deposits in the provinces of Badakhshan, Ghazni, Heart and Sar-I-Pul, and Balkh, according to a statement today. The Badakhshan gold site comprises four license areas of 250 square kilometers (62,000 acres) each, while the Zarkashan copper-gold project in Ghazni province hosts two licenses of 242 square kilometers each.
India and China have so far led foreign investment in the country’s mineral resources. A group of seven Indian steel and mining companies last week said they planned to invest $11 billion to develop iron ore mines and build a steel mill and power plant, after winning contracts in the country. The group, led by state-run Steel Authority of India Ltd. (SAIL), won bids for three of four iron-ore mines offered in the Hajigak region.
“The country’s rich mineral resources have the potential to transform the nation’s economy and provide early investors with substantial upside,” Wahidullah Shahrani, minister of mines, said in the statement. “Assessments of only a fraction of the country’s land area indicate the potential for considerable mineral resources.”
Shahrani’s promoting the tender in London this week. The offer is expected to lead to mining accords, including licenses for exploration and possibly exploitation, it said. Canaccord Genuity, SRK Consulting and Mayer Brown advising on the tender.
The Balkhab copper project in Sar-I-Pul and Balkh provinces in north-central Afghanistan has two exploration license areas of 210 square kilometers and 247 square kilometers. The Shaida copper project in the Adraskan District of the Herat province comprises one exploration license of 250 square kilometers.
One of the tenders won by the Indian group of investors last week included the Hajigak iron ore project, the country’s biggest deposit of the steel-making raw material.
Hajigak, a series of rugged mountain ridges 100 kilometers (60 miles) west of Kabul, holds an estimated 1.8 billion metric tons of ore and is the biggest mining project on offer in a country that the U.S. government estimated last year holds $1 trillion of untapped minerals. State-owned Metallurgical Corp. of China is developing the Aynak copper mine in Afghanistan.
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