15 Indian companies bid for Afghan iron deposits

With the negotiations for the TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) oil pipeline reaching a successful outcome and the security situation within the country taking a turn for the better over the last quarter of 2010, Afghanistan is now moving ahead on a path of national development. On Wednesday it invited 22 companies, including 15 from India, to bid for the development of its giant Hajigak iron ore deposits.

The country's ministry for mines has set 3 August 2011 as the deadline for bids for what it says is the largest un-mined iron deposit in Asia. It said it expected exploration to begin in 2012.

The Hajigak deposit straddles Bamiyan, Parwan and Wardak provinces.

The ministry estimates the worth of its reserves at as much as $350 billion.

Even as the country opens up its large reservoir of natural resources for commercial exploitation investors feel successful exploitation may well be years if not decades away as the country continues to battle insurgency and virtually non-existent infrastructure.

The ministry said interested companies included India's Jindal Steel and Power Ltd, JSW Steel, Tata Steel, NMDC, Steel Authority of India and Ispat Industries. UK-based Stemcor was also named, as well as Canadian-based Kilo Goldmines Ltd.