SAIL plans to bid for gold exploration in Afghanistan

After winning the bid to explore Hajigak iron-ore mines in Afghanistan, state-run behemoth, SAIL is all set to announce another consortium comprising leading PSUs to further its ambitions in the war-torn nation. The consortium is preparing on a war-footing to wrap up their talks and formally bid for exploring copper and gold deposits in the country.

The consortium to be led by Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL), Hindustan Copper Limited, National Aluminium Company Ltd and Mineral Exploration Corporation Ltd, would bid for Afghan gold and copper assets scattered across Afghanistan.

"We are working out the details and have opened talks with other companies aspiring to join us. Afghanistan is endowed with rich mineral resources and it makes enough economic sense for us to explore them. We are very positive on the issue," SAIL Chairman CS Verma told The Indian Express.

The Afghan mines ministry has recently invited Expression of Interests (EoIs) for bidding on four exploration licence areas for four gold blocks in Badakhshan totaling 1,000 sq km, for two copper-gold blocks in Zarkashan in Ghazni province totaling 484 sq km, Balkhab copper mines totaling 557 sq km and Shaida copper mines in Herat province of 250 sq km. Interested miners or their consortium will have to submit their EoIs by March 9 this year.

Winning bidders will have to ink a non-disclosure agreement with the Afghan government for gaining access to the technical data related to the assets, and submission of professional as also financial details by March 16 for entering the qualification stage.

The qualified bidders will be required to provide a bid bond of $250,000 for each licence area. The duration of the exploration licences shall be for three years, renewable for two consecutive periods, as prescribed in Article 26 of the Minerals Law 2009 of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. The duration of the subsequent exploitation licences will be 30 years, renewable for consecutive periods of five years until the deposit is exhausted.

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