NEW YORK The government
of Afghanistan has picked preferred bidders for three of its
four current mineral tenders, including a company backed by
former BHP Billiton Plc chief executive officer Chip Goodyear
and a former JPMorgan Cazenove executive fined for alleged
The countrys minister of
mines said that Kabul-registered Afghan Gold & Minerals
Co., Kabul-registered Turkish-Afghan Mining Co. and Dubai,
United Arab Emirates-registered Afghan Minerals Group had been
picked from a shortlist of 25 bidders to explore and begin to
develop the Balkhab, Badakhshan and Shaida projects,
"We look forward to finalizing
mining agreements with them," Wahidullah Shahrani said. "They
will then deliver their work program at each project and use
the experience they have gained in other regions to make
meaningful contributions to the development of our resources
comes through investment firm Centar Mining, a stakeholder in
Afghan Gold & Minerals through Afghan Gold Holdings,
Guernsey. Goodyear left his position at London-based BHP
Billiton in 2007 and retired from the group in 2008.
Centar investors also include
wealthy Polish businessman Jan Kulczyk and Ian Hannam, a former
dealmaker at London-based JPMorgan Cazenove who was fined
£450,000 ($721,500) by Britains Financial Services
Authority in April for alleged market abuse.
Afghan Gold & Minerals also
has a 49-percent stake in Turkish-Afghan Mining, with Turkish
miner Eti Gümüs holding the remaining stake.
Afghan Minerals technical
team includes Ken Haddow and David Cliff, both former
executives at London-based Rio Tinto Plc.
The remaining mineral deposit
waiting to be privatized is the Zarkashan copper-gold project
in northern Afghanistan.
Afghanistan has some of the
worlds few remaining undeveloped high-quality copper
reserves, but security concerns have often kept companies from
getting involved in projects there. But the Afghan government,
which is responsible for providing security at mining
operations, said these fears are overplayed in the media and
that insurgent activities are restricted to limited pockets of
The governments mines
protection unit has 1,500 personnel, a figure which will rise
to 7,000 when the United States exits Afghanistan in 2014. The
unit already keeps a watch on the Aynak copper mine and has not
reported any incidents since the project was granted a license
four years ago.