SAIL-led consortium to invest $11 bn in Afghanistan

A consortium of Indian companies led by Steel Authority of India Ltd is planning to invest $11 billion over eight to 10 years in a planned steel plant and to develop iron ore mines in Afghanistan.

This could be the largest single Indian investment in the war-ravaged company, SAIL chairman Chandra Shekhar Verma told reporters in New Delhi today.

The Afghan government had earlier awarded the rights to develop three blocks of the huge Hajigak iron ore concession in central Afghanistan to the consortium, with reserves estimated at 1.8 billion tonnes. A fourth block was won by Canada's Kilo Goldmines Ltd.

''The company is looking to set up a 6 million tonnes per annum steel plant in two phases,'' Verma said, adding that SAIL has asked Afghanistan to provide the requisite land and other infrastructure for the plant.

He said the steel plant would need investments of $7 billion to $7.5 billion and the remainder would be for developing the mines.

The other members of the consortium are state-run National Mineral Development Corp Ltd, steelmaker Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL), and private sector steelmakers JSW Steel, JSW Ispat Steel, Jindal Steel & Power and Monnet Ispat & Energy.