The Telegraph
Thursday , December 6 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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SAIL club set to ink Afghan mining pact

Calcutta, Dec. 5: Afghanistan will sign a contract with the SAIL-led consortium in January to pave the way for the latter to mine iron ore at Hajigak, Afghan minister of mines Wahidullah Shahrani said here today.

The size and complexity of the project had caused delays, he said and added that both the sides were negotiating to iron out issues by the end of this month.

“This delay is nothing unusual. Both sides are discussing to get the right legal opinion on the issues. Now, we have set a final date to conclude everything.”

“A Steel Authority of India Ltd delegation will be in Kabul by the middle of December. We expect to conclude everything by January. Our cabinet will authorise the ministry of mines to go ahead with the concession agreement. There are no major issues in moving forward. About 90 per cent of the issues have been sorted,” Shahrani said.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the International Mining and Machinery Exhibition and Global Mining Summit, 2012, organised by the CII in the city.

The SAIL-led consortium — called Afghan Iron and Steel Consortium (Afisco) — comprises public sector firms such as SAIL, NMDC and RINL along with private entities JSW Ispat, Jindal Steel and Power and Monnet Ispat and Energy.

The Afghanistan mines ministry had said Afisco would lose its licence if it failed to meet output targets or start production within six months of granting of licence. An export cap of 6 million tonnes also acted as an irritant.

Kabul is also holding talks with the Indian government to jointly develop a 600-km rail corridor from Bamiyan in central Afghanistan to Herat near the Iran border.

There are potential reserves of iron ore, lead and zinc along the route and the rail link will help to transport the minerals.