London: Afghanistan has said it is seeking investors for four mineral deposits containing copper and gold, a week after Indian steel and mining companies announced plans to spend as much as $11 billion in the war-ravaged country.
The government is starting a tender process for deposits in the provinces of Badakhshan, Ghazni, Herat and Sar-I-Pul, and Balkh, according to a statement on Tuesday. The Badakhshan gold site comprises four licence areas of 250 sq. km each, while the Zarkashan copper-gold project in Ghazni province hosts two licences of 242 sq. km each.
India and China have so far led foreign investment in the country’s mineral resources. A group of seven Indian steel and mining companies last week said they planned to invest $11 billion to develop iron ore mines and build a steel mill and power plant, after winning contracts in the country. The group won bids for three of four iron ore mines offered in the Hajigak region.
Copper on display. Photo: Bloomberg
“The country’s rich mineral resources have the potential to transform the nation’s economy and provide early investors with substantial upside,” Wahidullah Shahrani, minister of mines, said in the statement. “Assessments of only a fraction of the country’s land area indicate the potential for considerable mineral resources.”
Shahrani is promoting the tender in London this week. The offer is expected to lead to mining accords, including licences for exploration and possibly exploitation, it said. Canaccord Genuity, SRK Consulting and Mayer Brown are advising on the tender.
The Balkhab copper project in Sar-I-Pul and Balkh provinces in north-central Afghanistan has two exploration licence areas of 210 sq. km and 247 sq. km.
The Shaida copper project in the Adraskan district of the Herat province comprises one exploration licence of 250 sq. km.
One of the tenders won by the Indian group of investors last week included the Hajigak iron ore project.
Hajigak, a series of rugged mountain ridges 100km west of Kabul, holds an estimated 1.8 billion tonnes of ore and is the biggest mining project on offer in a country that the US government estimated last year holds $1 trillion of untapped minerals.