18 March 2011
London - Leading global law firm Mayer Brown has been retained by the government of Afghanistan as part of a group of international advisors charged with expediting international investment in Afghanistan's mineral sector.
The group, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations, also includes technical advisors SRK Consulting and Canadian firm Heenan Blaikie. The group will design and implement a transparent tender process that relies upon internationally-recognized business practices on behalf of Afghanistan's Ministry of Mines in order to enable that nation to realize the full potential from its mineral resources - reserves thought to be worth as much as $3 trillion. Reserves are thought to contain a variety of metals including gold, copper, iron ore, lithium and rare earths.
Mayer Brown will assist in the development of a legislative and regulatory framework as well as in the implementation of the tendering process.
The Mayer Brown team will be led by London partner Ian Coles, who heads the firm’s global Mining and Minerals practice. Mayer Brown has worked on mining projects in almost 50 countries across the globe, including the first producing mine in Eritrea, the Voshkod Chrome project in Kazakhstan, and the Kupol gold and silver mines in Russia. Ian Coles has been involved in the negotiation of government-sponsored mining agreements in Asia, Africa and elsewhere around the world.
Ian Coles, global head of Mining at Mayer Brown, said: "Afghanistan is a country with incredible natural resources. Unlocking these resources is key to the development of economic stability and sovereignty in that country. The challenges involved in that process are obviously substantial, we are honoured to have been selected to lead the team in addressing the legal issues surrounding the process."
Over the past year the Afghanistan Geological Service, the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Defense Department’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations have documented and mapped Afghanistan’s mineral wealth. The recent sampling work and remote sensing completed in Afghanistan has created, conservatively, the most extensive mineral dataset ever compiled for a single country. The country has been portioned into 24 areas of interest based on security, scale, market value, infrastructure needs and availability, and time to impact.
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