KABUL - *The Afghanistan Ministry of Mines and Petroleum (MoMP) has started tackling issues around Hajigak iron ore mine which has been standing idle despite the awarding of a contract six years ago. *
At the time, an Indian consortium won the tender to mine Hajigak but the contract was never signed.
Hajigak Mine has the largest iron oxide deposit in Afghanistan , and is located near the Hajigak Pass – which lies between Bamiyan and Maidan Wardak provinces. It has the biggest untapped iron ore deposits of Asia.
The Indian consortium said it would invest more than $11 billion USD in the mine which included the building of a steel factory, but soon after, reports emerged that the company was no longer interested. This issue was then confirmed by officials from the Ministry of Mines.
The acting mines minister Nargis Nehan meanwhile paid a visit to Canada last week to discuss a number of issues, including that of Hajigak with the Canadian firm, Kilo Goldmines Company.
“We are trying through diplomatic channels to implement the projects and now the acting minister is in Canada to get the views of the Canadian company in this regard,” Waliullah Zadran, acting director of legal services of the Ministry of Mines, said.
An expert said Afghanistan would have been able to afford a big part of the raw materials required for Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project if iron ore was being mined at Hajigak.
“There is a high demand for steel in the country. Indian companies also suggested establishing a steel factory in the country. It should have been implemented,” Zaman Hashimi, a mining expert said.
The ministry said in a statement on Saturday that Nehan will present Afghanistan’s Strategy for the Extractives Sector at PDAC 2018 on Wednesday.