NEW DELHI: A new mine in south India could contain the largest reserves of uranium in the world, a government official said in remarks reported Tuesday, signalling a major boost for the energy-hungry nation.
The Tumalapalli mine in Andhra Pradesh state could provide up to 150,000 tonnes of uranium, Srikumar Banerjee, secretary of the Department of Atomic Energy, told reporters after a four-year survey of the site was completed.
“It’s confirmed that the mine has 49,000 tonnes of ore, and there are indications that the total quantity could be three times that amount,” Banerjee was quoted as saying in The Times of India.
“If that be the case, it will become the largest uranium mine in the world,” he said.
Previous estimates suggested that only about 15,000 tonnes of uranium would be produced at the mine, which is due to start operating by the end of the year.
No details were released on the quality of the material in Tumalapalli, a key factor as other uranium mined in India has been inferior to imports being procured from France, Kazakhstan, Russia and elsewhere.
“The new findings would only augment the indigenous supply of uranium. There would still be a significant gap. We would still have to import,” Banerjee was quoted as saying in an Indian newspaper.
India gets less than three per cent of its energy from atomic power and it hopes to raise the figure to 25 per cent by 2050.
The government has been seeking new supplies of uranium, which is refined into nuclear fuel, but it has been consistently rebuffed by major exporter Australia as India has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.