As India aims to multiply its power generation capacity from 6,780 MW to 22,480 MW in the next 15 years, the government has come up with a three-stage plan for a tenfold increase in uranium production in the next 14 years. The target would be met by utilizing both local and imported sources.
New Delhi (Sputnik) — India’s Department of Atomic Energy has outlined a three-phased uranium production plan with which it hopes to achieve a tenfold increase in uranium production in the next fifteen years to fuel the country’s upcoming nuclear reactors and to meet the targeted 22,480 MW energy output.
“The uranium mining projects have been planned in three phases. On completion of the projects in the first phase, it is expected to produce 3.5 times more than the existing uranium production by the 12th year. On completion of the projects in the second phase, uranium production is expected to achieve seven times the existing production. Upon completion of phase three projects, uranium production in the country is expected to record a tenfold increase by 2031-32,” Jitendra Singh, Minister of State for Atomic Energy said in Parliament on Thursday.
According to an official estimate, India currently has 232,315 tons of uranium in the form of triuranium octoxide. However, many believe that the government has not been transparent on disclosing the actual reserves of Uranium extracted from local sources as it could provide a fair idea of the country’s nuclear weapons reserve.
“It is not in the public interest to disclose the quantity of Uranium production from these mines,” Jitendra Singh added.
India’s state-owned Uranium Corporation of India Ltd. (UCIL) is operating seven uranium mines in the state of Jharkhand and one uranium mine in the state of Andhra Pradesh. The government admits that the extraction and processing cost of uranium in India is very high as compared to other countries. Other uranium-rich areas are yet to be explored in the lack of supporting infrastructure and poor logistics. Lack of technology, adverse socio-economic conditions, environmental aspects, are other factors contributing to the slackened process of mining of some of the deposits in Meghalaya, Rajasthan, Karnataka, and Telangana.
India currently operates 22 nuclear reactors: eight of them with an aggregate capacity of 2,400 MW are fueled by domestic uranium, the remaining 14 reactors with an aggregate capacity of 4,380 MW under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards use imported uranium.
India presently ranks third in the number of nuclear reactors under construction after China and Russia and seventh in the number of reactors in operation. There are presently 59 reactors under construction in 17 countries with an aggregate capacity of 60,366 MW in the world as reported by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).