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Steel Authority of India Limited : India Minister : Consortium Got Letter Of Intent To Mine In Afghanistan

05/21/2012 | 06:09am US/Eastern

A consortium of seven Indian companies has received a letter of intent from the Afghanistan government, bringing them a step closer to mining iron-ore deposits in the country's Hajigak province, Indian Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma said Monday.

The group won the right to mine three iron-ore blocks in Afghanistan after an international bidding process last November.

The letter of intent is an initial agreement, which will be followed by a formal joint venture pact.

"We hope to sign a joint venture agreement [with the Afghan government] soon," added C.S. Verma, chairman of Steel Authority of India Ltd. (500103.BY), which leads the consortium.

The Indian group also includes state-run NMDC Ltd. 526371.BY) and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd., and private-sector firms JSW Steel Ltd. (500228.BY), Jindal Steel & Power Ltd. (532286.BY), JSW Ispat Steel Ltd. (500305.BY) and Monnet Ispat & Energy Ltd. (513446.BY).

Minister Verma added that SAIL is also in the final stages of discussions to build a steel plant in Afghanistan.

--By Biman Mukherji, Dow Jones Newswires; 91-11-4356-3358; prasenjit.bhattacharya@dowjones.com

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