New uranium mines to be operational within a month

Uranium-starved Indian nuclear reactors are all set to receive a heavy dose of fuel within months as two new uranium mines, including a big one in Andhra Pradesh, are set to come alive soon.

The much-awaited Tummalapalle uranium mine in Andhra Pradesh and Mouldih mine in Jharkhand were ready and would be operational within months, D Acharya, chairman and managing director of Uranium Corporation of India Ltd told Deccan Herald here on the sidelines of an international nuclear symposium.

It is the Andhra Pradesh site on which the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) is banking on heavily not only for feeding the existing plants but also for supply to the upcoming large reactors.

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd is currently constructing four 700 MW reactors – two in Rawatbhatta in Rajasthan and two in Kakrapara in Gujarat. It plans to construct 10 more such 700 MW reactors over the next 10 years.

“In a few weeks time, Tummalapalle mine and extraction plant will be commissioned. Currently, the estimated uranium reserve is 62,000 tonnes, which may go up as explorations are still on with encouraging results,” Acharya said, adding that Mouldih mine too would be operational anytime now. UCIL plans to mine 3,000 tonnes of uranium ore from Andhra mines initially, which would later be raised to 4,500 tonnes. But Acharya refused to disclose actually how much uranium would be extracted from 3,000 tonnes of ore pointing out that it was “classified information.”

The Gogi mine in Yadgir district in north Karnataka has a small but high-grade deposit that can be extracted through a mobile plant. The UCIL, however, has not received approval from the union environment and forest ministry to start commercial mining.
Acharya admitted that there is no progress at Domiasiat uranium mine which houses India's best quality uranium ore.

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