China to step up overseas uranium mining
Beijing: The China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC) will speed up overseas uranium mining exploration, focusing on Australia, Africa and Central Asia, to meet the company's growing demand.
"We have no worries about uranium resource reserves as we will enhance efforts on exploring the resources both at home and abroad," said Sun Qin, chairman of the state-owned energy company.
China Daily Tuesday quoted him as saying Monday that the company runs more than 40 percent of China's nuclear sites.
Sun said the eurozone debt crisis had given Chinese companies such as CNNC a good opportunity to expand their overseas mining operations.
"We will step up uranium mining projects in foreign countries," he said. "The target overseas markets include Australia, Africa and Central Asia."
The ministry of land and resources said Nov 4 that a large leaching sandstone-type uranium deposit had been discovered in northern China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region.
Considered one of the world's top uranium mines, it is the country's largest leaching sandstone-type uranium deposit so far.
It is of great significance for boosting domestic uranium supplies and ensuring sufficient resources to develop the nuclear power industry, the ministry said.
"We expect that the domestic market will satisfy half of our demand, with the other half coming from overseas," especially through purchasing uranium resources abroad, Sun said.
China imported 16,126 tonnes of uranium in 2011, down 6 percent from the previous year, according to the General Administration of Customs.
Around 95 percent of China's uranium imports are from Kazakhstan, Namibia, Australia and Uzbekistan.
China is expected to have 40 million kilowatts of installed nuclear capacity by 2015, and this would consume at least 7,500 tons of natural uranium annually.