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India Denies Scrapping Afghan Mining Project

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India has dismissed reports that an Indian consortium has scrapped a multi-billion dollar iron-ore mining deal in Afghanistan, saying only an analysis of the proposed project's opportunities and strengths had been done.
 
Media reports had stated that after developing cold feet over the proposed $10.8 billion steel Hajigak iron ore mine project in Bamiyan province, conceived in November 2011, the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL)-led consortium of leading Indian steelmakers has now decided to scrap the project altogether.
 
Dismissing the reports, India's Ambassador to Afghanistan Amar Sinha tweeted, "Not correct. Meeting only did a SWOT analysis of opportunities and strengths. No decision of this sort." 
 
The Hajigak mine is expected to be one of the largest economic projects in Afghanistan.
 
After winning bids for three iron ore mines at Hajigak in the war-torn Afghanistan in November 2011, the Indian consortium AFISCO had then said that it would invest $10.8 billion to set up a 6.2 mtpa steel plant in two equal phases along with a 800 MW power plant, besides creating the necessary infrastructure.
 
Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani on a recent visit to New Delhi thanked India for $2.2 billion in aid over the past decade.
 
He said Afghanistan wanted to regain its centuries-old status as a crossroads for regional trade.
 
"Our vision today is to be guided by that potential where again the energy of Central Asia will flow to South Asia where pipelines, fibre optics, railways, and connectivity, air, ground and virtual will connect us," Ghani said in a speech.
 
The president said Afghanistan offered vast natural resources such as copper, iron ore and rare earth metals estimated at $1 trillion to $3 trillion that could be used for regional economic development.
 
(Agencies)