It's possible to access Australian uranium, says Sharma

Gillard, who arrived here on a three-day visit on Monday, had said that Australia was open on selling uranium to India.

New Delhi:With India and Australia set to start negotiations on a nuclear deal, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma Tuesday said it will be now "possible" for India to access uranium that would help in meeting the country's ambitious plan of increasing electricity generation.

"It would be possible for India to access uranium, which we need for our very ambitious plan to generate 60 GW or 60,000 MW of civil nuclear energy by 2030," Sharma said after a luncheon meeting with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard here.

Gillard, who arrived here on a three-day visit on Monday, had said that Australia was open on selling uranium to India.

Gillard, while attending a function today, said she would be meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday, adding that her Labor party has changed its previous position of not selling uranium to India, while noting that it will happen under a comprehensive civil nuclear cooperation agreement.

Sharma said Australia has resources like gold, minerals and metal, which India needs.

"Australia has resources like gold, minerals and metals which India needs for its industrial growth and energy security," he said.

In December last year, Australia's ruling Labour Party led by Gillard cleared the way for export of Australian uranium to India after a strong debate on the floor of the party's 46th national conference.

Despite resistance from opponents, the landmark policy change was carried out, paving the way for the first Australian country-to-country agreement to sell the yellow cake to a country outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Australia's known uranium resources are the world's largest - 31 percent of the world total. In 2011-12 Australia produced 7,700 tonnes of uranium oxide concentrate. It is the world's third-ranking producer, behind Kazakhstan and Canada, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Further, Sharma said during the meeting issues related with increasing investments from both the sides was also discussed.

"We did talk on more investments from Australia to India, better market access for Indian companies in the IT sector and other services particularly, for Indian generics and also agricultural products," he said.

In 2011-12, bilateral trade between the countries was USD 17.3 billion.