WASHINGTON, Dec 3: A US mining company has agreed to sell 500 metric tons of uranium a year to India, the US media reported on Sunday.
The agreement between WM Mining and India’s Nuclear Fuel Complex will be executed only after the Indo-US nuclear deal is concluded.
Both chambers of the US Congress have already approved the deal and a final approval is expected at a joint session sometime next week. The bill will then be sent to President George W Bush who has already agreed to sign it into a law.
The law would end a three-decade ban on nuclear commerce with India, enabling major US companies to benefit from the lucrative Indian market.
Last week, the US sent a 250-member trade delegation to Mumbai, representing 180 companies. As many as 30 members of the delegation represented 14 US firms in the nuclear sector.Representatives from nuclear reactor manufacturers Westinghouse, General Electric, BWX Technologies and fuel processing specialist Thorium Power also visited a nuclear site in India.
The US-India Business Council estimates that New Delhi will need at least $100 billion worth of investment to develop nuclear energy over the next 20 years.
Among the estimated 400 nuclear reactors across the world, the US has 104, and India has just 16, though India's population is more than thrice the population of the US.
India's ability to scale up its current production of 3,000 megawatts is restricted by its lack of access to the international nuclear fuel market. The proposed US law can help end this restriction.
US nuclear experts say that nuclear fuel is an affordable option for India. Currently, India’s Nuclear Power Corporation sells a kilowatt of power for one rupee.
General Electric hopes to apply for licences to develop nuclear technology as it believes that power generation will be the key investment area in India.
Westinghouse, one of the world's largest providers of nuclear technology, wants to establish itself as a supplier to major Indian companies.
American firms are also exploring ways for partnering with India to supply nuclear power globally. Natural resources of India, home to nearly one-third of the world's thorium reserves, and an abundant skilled workforce make it an attractive investment. BWX Technologies estimates that between 15 and 30 new nuclear plants will be needed each year in the global nuclear energy industry. The new ventures will generate around 600,000 jobs annually.