Indian companies yet to line up consortium for Afghan iron ore

Mumbai: Leading Indian steel manufacturers bidding for Afghan ore deposits may be in informal discussions to form a consortium in a bid to fend off stiff competition from global players. The ore deposits are estimated by the Kabul government to be worth $350 billion or Rs15.8 lakh crore.

The Hajigak iron ore reserves in Afghanistan are estimated at 2 billion tonnes.

The Indian companies- SAIL, Tata Steel, JSW and ArcelorMittal - are competing with global peers, including a Chinese firm already operating in Afghanistan on the $40 billion Aynak copper mine south of Kabul. The Chinese company bribed its way to bag the project and the Afghan minister responsible for taking the bribe was subsequently removed from the government.

Senior Indian steel company officials have let it be known that though there have been informal discussions between shortlisted Indian firms, a decision was yet to be taken on a proposal for joint bidding by a consortium.

Last month, Afghan mining minister Wahidullah Shahrani had said that Tata Steel and JSW are among 22 companies bidding for the Hajigak deposits.