SAIL-led consortium to bid for Afghan iron-ore mine

Three public sector units along with an equal number of private sector companies would form a consortium, led by Steel Authority of India, to submit the final bid for the Hajigak iron ore mine in Afghanistan, SAIL chairman C S Verma said today.

"A consortium led by SAIL will put its final bid for the Hajigak mine. There will be three companies each from both the public and the private sectors," Verma told reporters on the sidelines of an Assocham event in New Delhi.

Though Verma named the three PSUs - SAIL, NMDC and RINL - the private parties that would bid for the mine, which reportedly has reserves of around 1.8 billion tonnes, were not named by him.

He, however, said if the SAIL-led consortium won the bid, state-run companies would have a majority 52 per cent stake in the mine and while private sector firms would hold the rest, though not necessarily in equal proportion.
The deadline for bidding was recently extended by the Afghanistan government from 2 August to 4 September. In addition to the SAIL-led consortium in the Indian side, there were three to four others, who had evinced interest in bidding.

Replying to a question as to whether law and order problem could be an issue, Verma said, the government of Afghanistan had already assured the Indian government that it would take care of that part. He added Afghanistan was a developing economy and finally growth would prevail over terrorism.

The chairman said that the steel plant plans in Afghanistan would depend upon assured supply of other raw materials like coking coal. Also, he said, steel prices were stable now and may continue to remain stable, but hoped that the coking coal price would come down "much below" from the current level of $300 a tonne.