Kazzinc competing for Tajik silver deposit contract

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Thursday, June 23, 2011 – A Kazakh and an Australian mining company are competing for a silver deposit in Tajikistan after three Chinese companies bailed out of negotiations, a Tajik government official said on Wednesday.

Kazzinc, a Kazakh miner and producer of lead, copper and zinc, is leading a consortium that is contending against BHP Billiton, the world’s biggest mining company by revenue, for the largest silver deposit in Tajikistan.

Rahmonbek Bakhtdavlatov, first deputy chief of the state agency for geology, said he expects the government to award a license to develop the Konimansuri Kalon field before year’s end, the Reuters news agency reported.

The Tajik government sees the venture as a boon for the country’s economy, the poorest of the 15 ex-Soviet republics.

“If we work this project out, the investment climate in Tajikistan will change completely,” Bakhtdavlatov said.

Three bidders from China pulled out of the bidding, he said, naming one as Zijin Mining Group, which currently operates a gold mine in Tajikistan.

The Konimansuri Kalon deposit is located in north Tajikistan about 30 miles from the country’s second-largest city of Khujand.

The winner will be required to invest around $2 billion to begin production of the mine.

The field holds 1.1 billion tons of silver ore, according to Tajik government estimates.