Indian and Chinese companies have emerged the front-runners to bag mining and oil exploration deals in war-torn Afghanistan, the country's mining minister yesterday said.
Afghan's minister of mines, Wahidullah Shahrani told Reuters on the sidelines of a mining conference in Belgium that two Indian companies have emerged as ''the most potential companies,'' among a short list of six to win a contract for the vast Hajigak iron ore project.
One of the bidders is an independent company and one a consortium that includes steel magnate LN Mittal's family, he told the news agency
An oil and gas contract in northern Afghanistan's Amu Darya field will most likely go to a Chinese bidder in early December, Shahrani said.
The vast mineral and oil resources of Afghanistan is likely to fall easily at Indian and Chinese companies lap as Western mining and oil giants seek to stay away from investments in a troubled region.
In June 2010, the US Pentagon disclosed that Afghanistan has nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits - enough to turn a country racked by decades of conflict into one of the most important mining centres in the world. (See: Afghanistan holds $1-trillion in mineral deposits: Pentagon)