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Nalco consortium to submit bid for Afghan gold, copper mines

Press Trust of India / New Delhi 11 Jul 12 | 04:03 PM

Aluminium producer Nalco, in consortium with steel major SAIL and Hindustan Copper, will submit a bid for developing gold and copper deposits in Afghanistan this month, a top company official said today.

The consortium of Indian PSUs is among the 25 companies/ consortia from the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, the UAE, Turkey and Afghanistan that have been shortlisted by the Afghan government in April for developing its gold and copper mines.

"We are looking at bidding in Afghanistan in consortium with SAIL and Hindustan Copper in some copper and gold projects in Afghanistan this month," National Aluminium Company's (Nalco) Chairman B L Bagra told reporters on the sidelines of a mining conference here.

He, however, declined to comment on proposed investments on Afghanistan's gold and copper mines, saying that completion of bidding process takes a long time.

The deposits being examined by PSUs' consortium includes gold and copper deposits at Zarkashan in Ghazn, at Badakhshan, and at Herat and Balkhab in Shaida districts of Afghanistan. Some time back, officials of the PSUs had also visited the sites.

Two private Indian firms -- Monnet Ispat & Energy and Jindal Steel & Power have also been shortlisted by the Afghan government for the copper and gold mines.

The two firms have been invited to join the consortium of state-owned entities, so that a single Indian bid can be put up, Hindustan Copper's Chairman Shakeel Ahmed had said last month.

Last year, a consortium of Indian private and public sector companies from the steel and mining sector, AFISCO, had successfully bid for developing Hajigak mines in the war-torn nation, which is considered to have 1.28 billion tonnes of iron ore.

Currently, it is in the process of finalising the agreement with the Afghan government, which includes development of Hajigak mines and constructing a steel plant.

Asked about proposed 10% disinvestment of Nalco,

Bagra said it is for the government to decide as the state-owned aluminium major does not require funds to meet its capital expenditure requirements.

"We have sufficient cash balance to fund our growth plans at least for next two years. This will be a divestment of the government stake per se and the government will decide the timing, mode and all other formalities, Nalco is not part of this process," he said.

As on March-end, government holds 87.15% stake in Nalco and the rest is with the public, including 9.13% with the financial institutions.
The company, which has kept a capex of Rs 2,300 crore on its expansion and other activities in the current fiscal, is sitting on a cash reserves of about Rs 5,000 crore, he added.

This includes Rs 1,000 crore investment as equity contribution to its joint venture with Nuclear Power Corporation, which is executing unit 3 and 4 of Kakarapar Atomic Power Station (KAPS) in Gujarat of 700 MW capacity each.

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