The client, Kerman Coal Company (KCC) and its consultant, Tara Tarh, also local, is carrying out prequalification of potential contractors, which is expected to be completed by mid-August. About 10 companies will then be invited to bid, probably by an end-2004 submission deadline.

The three mines, located at Hashoni, Harnkar and Main Pebedana, are largely unmechanised, with most of the work carried out by hand-held hammer jacks. Tara Tarh says it is not yet clear what kind of equipment will be economical for the upgrade.

Contractors have been asked to bid on an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) basis, and to operate the mines for the first two years after the expansion. In each mine, a seam will be set aside as a sample phase for the mechanisation. The contractor will be expected to train local workers to use the new equipment. Foreign/local joint venture bids must have at least a 51 per cent local share. The work will be financed by the client.

KCC is owned by the Iranian Mineral Industry Development & Renovation Organisation (IMIDRO)and Iranian Mineral Production & Supply Company (Impasco), both subsidiaries of the Industries & Mines Ministry.