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India eyes deal on maiden Afghan steel plant

India eyes deal on maiden Afghan steel plant

May 31, 2013 - 17:15

KABULinfo-icon (PANinfo-icon): The Indian government plans negotiations with steel and mining firms on reaching a deal with Afghanistaninfo-icon to develop four iron ore blocks and set up a steel plant in central Bamyan province, a report said on Friday.

Ninety percent of the agreement had been finalised, the Times of India quoted unnamed sources as saying. The Afghan Iron and Steel Consortium (AIFSCO) sought soft financing from New Delhi, it added.

The government in Delhi prepares to meet shortly representatives of a Steel Authority of India (SAIL)-led consortium to clinch the contract for developing the iron ore blocks and setting up a steel plant in Hajigak.

Negotiators told the newspaper: "The first phase, which will involve prospecting and exploration, is likely to take about 18 months and will involve an investment of around $75-$80 million."

In the second phase, the consortium will build Afghanistan's first steel plant -- a project that has a gestation period of about a decade.

Afghanistan is believed to have enormous mineral resources worth id="mce_marker" trillion, with India seeking to gain access to the largely untapped sector.

PAN Monitor/mud

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