Kudos for NSG waiver! In the aftermath of clearance from NSG, India has started action plans to improve uranium availability, both indigenously and from foreign sources. Sources said that the government is contemplating the following actions: –
- Within the country, the government wants to speed up exploration work for uranium already going on in Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, and Meghalaya and double the confirmed reserve of 61000 metric tons of the mineral in the country.
- Government plans to ask Oil and Natural Gas Commission of India (ONGC), a public sector enterprise (PSU) to join hands with Uranium Corporation of India, another PSU, for domestic exploration operations.
- Government plans to engage in equity participation abroad as was being done in the case of oil and gas. Nuclear Power Corporation of India, another PSU, has been entrusted to acquire equity of about $1.2 billion in a Canadian uranium mine.
- India has initiated talks with African countries of Gabon, Niger and Namibia to pick up equity in mines there. Namibia, having about 9% of global uranium reserves, is a non-NSG country and has shown interest in entering into a long-term arrangement with India.
- Government is also contemplating to acquire stakes in uranium mines abroad through cash rich ONGC, which is also likely to play a key role in ensuring uranium security.
As per sources, Indian company, Taurian Resources has recently won an exclusive right to mine over 3000square-kilometer area in Niger, having an estimated reserve of about 30000 mt of uranium. As Niger is not a member of NSG, India would be at ease to access the mineral once the mine becomes operational.
At home, Uranium Corporation and Nuclear Power Corporation are working on a ‘uranium mining cum processing project’ in Nalgonda district of Andhra Pradesh, which is likely to be operational anytime next year.