Afghanistan Awards Indian Group Hajigak Iron-Ore Mine Rights - Businessweek Nov. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Afghanistan offered mining rights at the countryâ€™s biggest iron deposit to an Indian government- backed group of companies and to Canadaâ€™s Kilo Goldmines Ltd., the Mines Ministry said. President Hamid Karzai and the Cabinet awarded three of four blocks at Hajigak to seven Indian steel and mining companies led by state-owned Steel Authority of India Ltd. and NMDC Ltd., said Mines Ministry policy director Abdul Jalil Jumriany. The government of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sought the contract to widen its strategic presence in Afghanistan, the stability of which it says is essential for Indian security. Hajigak, a series of rugged mountain ridges west of Kabul that holds an estimated 1.8 billion metric tons of ore 100 kilometers (60 miles), is the biggest mining project on offer in a country that the U.S. government estimated last year holds $1 trillion in untapped minerals. The Indian groupâ€™s bid includes an offer to build a power plant and invest $1 billion in a railroad to export the ore, Jumriany said in a phone interview in Kabul. India has said it is exploring a rail line from Hajigak to the Iranian port of Chabahar. The expansion of Indiaâ€™s role in Afghanistan, which has included mainly construction work and development projects, is likely to upset rival Pakistan, according to analysts such as Bashir Ahmed, a senior fellow and retired army brigadier at the Institute of Regional Studies in Islamabad. The Indian group includes state-owned Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd., and private-sector companies JSW Steel Ltd., Jindal Steel & Power Ltd., Monnet Ispat Ltd. and JSW Ispat Steel Ltd. The government awarded the fourth block at Hajigak to Kilo Goldmines Ltd., Jumriany said, and will next open negotiations with Kilo and the Indian group to finalize contracts. Unsuccessful bidders included Indiaâ€™s Corporate Ispat Alloys Ltd. and Iranâ€™s Gol-e-Gohar Iron Ore Co. and Behin Sanate Diba Co.