When Charles Hornung lost his finance job in London three years ago, he’d never heard of Tajikistan. Now, the CEO of Silverhill Resources is one of a handful of Western mining magnates who call this impoverished Central Asian country home.
“The prospects here are great,” Hornung said at a Dushanbe café this month. “But so are the hurdles.”
With more than 600 documented mineral deposits, including what’s believed to be one of the biggest silver stores in the world, Tajikistan has been attempting to lure foreign mining investment for almost a decade. And despite poor infrastructure and the ever-present threat of corruption, in recent years Tajikistan’s future looked bright, with four international bidders – including Australia’s BHP Billiton and a consortium led by the Switzerland-based Glencore – vying to develop the country’s immense Kalon Konimansur silver-lead-zinc deposit.
But today, only the Glencore consortium remains in the running for the $3-billion investment, and insiders say even this is uncertain. (A Glencore spokesman refused EurasiaNet.org’s request for comment.)
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