A consortium of Indian companies lead by State owned SAIL has won the status of Preferred Bidder to develop the Hajigak iron ore deposits in Afghanistan.

The consortium Afghan Iron & Steel Consortium (AFISCO), submitted its bid for mining exploration rights at Hajigak which has an estimated reserve of 1.7bnt. The consortium now has the status of ‘Preferred Bidder’ for blocks B, C and D of the mines with an estimated reserve of 1.28bnt of high-grade magnetite iron ore (with 62-64% Fe content). The consortium will now have the opportunity to enter into a Hajigak Project Contract with the Ministry of Mines of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan after formal negotiations, and will receive a license to further explore, develop and exploit the Hajigak iron ore deposits.

The consortium also proposed setting up of a 6.12Mt/y steel plant in Afghanistan in two phases of 3.06Mt each, subject to Afghanistan government making available linkages for coking coal and limestone in sufficient volumes. The plan also envisages installation an 800MW power plant in two phases of 400MW each to cater to the operations of the mine and steel plant. As part of building necessary internal infrastructural support, the consortium plans to build 200km each of rail, road and transmission line network for the mine and steel project.

The total investment by AFISCO on all is estimated to be US$10.8bn in phases.

The other companies involved in the consortium with SAIL are government owned mining company NMDC and steelmaker RINL which together holding a combined stake of 56% of which SAIL, being the lead partner, holds an equity stake of 20% with NMDC and RINL holding 18% each. Among the private players are JSW and JSPL each holding 16%, and JSW Ispat and Monnet Ispat & Energy hold 8% and 4%, respectively.