Afghanistan Enlists Consultants To Develop Tender Process For Mineral Assets

Afghanistan Enlists Consultants To Develop Tender Process For Mineral Assets

08 March 2011, 10:04 a.m.
By Kitco News

TORONTO (Kitco News) - Experts with SRK Consulting, Mayer Brown and Heenan Blaikie will assist Afghanistan in its efforts to expedite international investment in the country’s promising mining sector, Afghan Minister of Mines Wahidullah Shahrani said this week.

The country is looking to tap its minerals wealth after news last year of nearly $1 trillion in deposits, with hopes that this will provide stability to the country’s economy. The discoveries include huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and industrial metals such as lithium.

“Bringing this caliber of international expertise to bear for the Ministry will build the confidence of global investors in Afghanistan’s untapped mineral resources,” Shahrani said. “That international investor confidence is key to sustainable economic growth in our country.”

The announcement of the advisors helping Afghanistan was made at the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada’s conference in Toronto.

SRK Consulting technical advisors, led by Neal Rigby, and Mayer Brown legal advisors, led by partner Ian Coles, will design and execute a transparent tender process on behalf of the Ministry of Mines, Shahrani said. Heenan Blaikie partner Steve Vaughan will assist with strategic direction.

SRK offers mining-sector clients services from exploration through feasibility, mine planning, production and closure. Mayer Brown is an international law firm with 1,600 attorneys across Europe, the Americas and Asia.

Over the past year, Afghanistan’s vast mineral wealth have been portioned into 24 “areas of interest” based on security, scale, market value, infrastructure needs and availability, and time to impact. The work was undertaken by the U.S. Defense Department’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations, in conjunction with the Afghanistan Geological Service and the U.S. Geological Survey.

The assembled team of consultants working with Afghanistan is sponsored by U.S. Department of Defense’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations.

“The sheer volume of minerals, precious metals and rare earth elements that lie beneath the Earth’s surface in Afghanistan represent a powerful potential economic engine.  The responsible development of this mineral wealth can make Afghanistan economically self-sufficient and create thousands of local jobs,” said Deputy Under Secretary Paul A. Brinkley, who directs the Task Force.