New uranium finds help fuel India’s nuclear program

India has a flourishing and largely indigenous nuclear power program and expects to have 20,000 MWe nuclear capacity on line by 2020 and 63,000 MWe by 2032.  The target is to supply 25% of electricity from nuclear power by 2050.
But uranium ores in India are largely low-grade ores which are not usually economic for power generation (and are therefore mainly used for weapons programs). Because India is outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty due to its weapons program, it was for 34 years largely excluded from trade in nuclear plant or materials, which has hampered its development of civil nuclear energy until 2009.
The civil nuclear program is heavily dependent upon the continued import of nuclear fuels. Nevertheless new finds of uranium ore in India provide comfort for the continuing nuclear program in the wake of Fukushima.
Uranium mining in Andhra Pradesh, which has been held up for years by environmental and other activists, has finally begun. Andhra Pradesh’s uranium ore is five times richer than in India’s old mines at Jaduguda. But this does not solve India’s uranium shortage for nuclear power plants. Jaduguda ore has just 0.06% uranium, and AP will yield maybe 0.3%.
But internationally, commercial ores have up to 15% uranium and India will need imported fuel for the foreseeable future

From The Hindu:

Tummalapalle in Andhra Pradesh could have one of the largest uranium reserves in the world. Recent studies have indicated that it could have a reserve of 1.5 lakh (150,000) tonnes of the scarce material.

Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy, and Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission Srikumar Banerjee said: “Studies have already shown that the area had a confirmed reserve of 49,000 tonnes and recent surveys indicated that this figure could go up even three folds.”

He said uranium deposits in Tummalapalle appeared to be spread over 35 km. Exploratory works are under way. At present, the country is estimated to have a total reserve of about 1,75,000 tonnes of uranium, apart from this.

Terming the new findings a major development, Dr. Banerjee, however, pointed out that the indigenous reserves would still not be sufficient to meet the entire demand of the country’s nuclear programme. “The new findings would only augment the indigenous supply of uranium. There would still be a significant gap. We would still have to import.”

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2 Responses to “New uranium finds help fuel India’s nuclear program”

  1. roberto Says:

    “But internationally, commercial ores have up to 15% uranium and India will need imported fuel for the foreseeable future”
    Maybe comercial ores in the world stay at 1.5% nor 15%.
    15% will be find only after industrial concentration .

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