WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--CENTAR Limited, the mining and exploration investment company, and its operating company Afghan Gold and Minerals Company (AGMC), today announced they will sign contracts with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to develop two sites in Balkhab and Badakhshan with potentially significant copper and gold deposits. Together, these contracts represent the largest mining exploration effort in the history of Afghanistan.
“The responsible development of Afghanistan’s mineral deposits would be truly transformative for the country, providing sustainable, indigenous revenue sources to help increase social stability and peace,” said Ian Hannam, Founder and Chairman of CENTAR. “I am grateful to President Donald J. Trump, the current administration, and the U.S. Department of Defense who identified these assets and financed the tender process for the Government of Afghanistan to help make today possible.”
Work conducted the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and USAID, has estimated the potential value of Afghanistan’s minerals, including gold and gemstones as well as substances like lithium and rare earths vital in modern electronics, at as much as $1 trillion.
“This investment will be transformative for Afghanistan,” said Sadat Naderi, Chairman and President of Afghanistan Gold and Minerals and Vice President of Turkish Afghan Mining Company. “The mining sector holds more potential to create a prosperous and peaceful Afghanistan than any other area. We are excited to play our part in building enterprises that will transform the lives of thousands of Afghans living in rural villages and generate new careers for hundreds of students across our country. As we explore and discover mineral resources, we will development local human capital and support a new local services industry. Once we begin mining, the country will benefit from major investments in infrastructure as well as fiscal revenue from our projects.”
CENTAR introduced the first western capital into Afghanistan’s minerals sector back in 2011 and has conducted more minerals exploration in Afghanistan in more locations than any other company. Over the past seven years, CENTAR has invested millions of dollars bringing world-class exploration and mining equipment to Afghanistan. This equipment will be used to start exploration in these two new projects.
“The Balkhab and Badakhshan projects sit on sites with well-documented occurrences of copper and gold going back hundreds and thousands of years, respectively,” said Bradley Barnett, Chief Executive Officer of CENTAR. “With our deep expertise in Afghanistan and existing assets on the ground in Afghanistan, CENTAR and our partners are well positioned to realize the full potential of these assets and achieve our vision of becoming a diversified minerals producer at scale.”
The Balkhab Copper Project is an early-stage exploration project covering a 500-square-kilometer area in northern Afghanistan and is marked by occurrences of sulfide and oxide copper ores, the latter of which has a history of mining and processing at the site that stretches back an estimated 3,000 years. Intensive exploration and development of the project will begin in early 2019 and will build on information collected and analyzed by the Afghan Geological Survey and the USGS, among other resources.
CENTAR and its partners will develop the Badakhshan Gold Project, located in northeast Afghanistan, which has supported generations of artisanal miners with the gold in its ancient riverbeds. Russian geologists previously documented a series of gold bearing occurrences on the site and generated a small indicated resource before work concluded in the 1970s. Exploration work will be restarted and an exploration of the larger 1,000 square kilometer license area will begin in 2019.
These projects will mark some of the largest foreign direct investment into Afghanistan. Within the first year of operation, both projects could be among the largest private-sector employers and taxpayers in the country. If exploration results reveal feasible large-scale mining projects, they hold the potential of generating a combined economic impacts in excess of $1 billion and creating nearly 13,000 jobs during peak operations, most of which would be filled by training and employing thousands of Afghan workers.
In addition, CENTAR is committed to working closely with Afghanistan’s Ministry of Mines and other government entities, as well as the U.S. government, USAID and the broader donor community, to make significant social investments in new roads, electrification and water projects, school construction and improvements, and other infrastructure.
The selection of the preferred bidder for Badakhshan and Balkhab followed a transparent, standards-based and competitive bidding processes supported by international transaction and transparency advisers. Canaccord Genuity, SRK Consulting and Mayer Brown acted as transaction advisers. The Marx Group acted as transparency advisers.
The Government of Afghanistan will be represented at the signing ceremony by Dr. Mohammad Humayon Qayoumi, Minister of Finance, and Nargis Nehan, Acting Minister of Mines and Petroleum.
The signing ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. ET at the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, 2001 24th St. NW, Washington, DC 20008. Media interested in attending should RSVP to Centar-RSVP@finsbury.com.
CENTAR Limited is a U.S.-based mining and exploration company founded in 2010 by the late Polish business magnate, Jan Kulczyk and City of London banker Ian Hannam. The company is Afghanistan’s leading independent mining company and was created by several prominent global business leaders including Chip Goodyear, the former CEO of BHP Billiton, Ian Hannam, the former chairman of capital markets of JP Morgan, Peter Hambro, one of the founders of UK-listed miner Petropavlovsk, and mining and oil investors from Turkey, Thailand, Indonesia, the U.S. and the UK. CENTAR’s technical management team has more than 150 years of combined relevant experience and have extensive experience in resource exploration across Afghanistan including the Qara Zaghan gold project.
CENTAR’s local partner, Mr. Sadat Naderi, is a prominent businessperson who has invested widely in various sectors of the economy in Afghanistan since 2002. In 2015, he was appointed Minister of Urban Development and served as a member of the Cabinet of Afghanistan. He recently resigned his post after three years of distinguished service.