Govt should open up uranium exploration: Reliance

"When India will have to depend on nuclear power in future and supply will continue to be vulnerable, there should a policy by which the private sector should be allowed to explore and mine uranium in India," Reliance Industries president (operations) Atul Chandra told PTI.

He believed that opening up the sector to the private sector with proper safeguards would help the country in uranium exploration.

Chandra said that he recognised the sensitivity of the sector and that there should be proper safeguards in selecting companies for the uranium business.

Currently, the state-owned Uranium Corporation of India has monopoly for exploration and mining of uranium.

Moreover, Indian companies should be encouraged to go overseas in a big way in acquiring uranium assets for energy security, he said.

Asked how the government could encourage Indian companies in acquiring uranium assets overseas, Chandra said at least the government could provide preference to Indian companies while importing uranium after the legal binding period, if any.

Chandra pointed at the success of oil and gas discoveries by Indian private companies after the National Exploration National Policy was introduced.

He expected exploration going on in two uranium blocks by Reliance-UXA JV in Australia to yield some results by 2011- end.

Reliance Industries had entered the sector through its arm, RIL (Australia) Pty Ltd, signing a joint venture agreement with Uranium Exploration Australia Ltd (UXA) in December 2007.

Under the agreement, RIL Australia will receive 49 per cent interest in four of UXA's exploration licences in South Australia and four of UXA's exploration licence applications (ELAs) in the Northern Territory.

If the plan of NPCIL rolled out according to projections, India would require a huge quantity of uranium to support fuel supply which could not be met through UCIL, the industry believed.

NPCIL had announced a plan to set up a few mega nuclear energy parks across the country with each having a total capacity of 10,000 MW.

The first one is already at an advanced stage of planning at Jaitapur, in Maharashtra.

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