Australia to begin uranium sales to India after negotiations

Australia to begin uranium sales to India after negotiations New Delhi: Australia on Tuesday said actual start of its uranium trade with India will depend on negotiations on the issue between the two countries.

"The question is when we get to the point of actually doing it depends on the way the negotiations between the two countries develop," Australia's Energy Minister Martin Ferguson said speaking at the fourth Australia-India Roundtable here.

He said ruling Labour Party's decision in December last year to open up uranium sales to India had a "major symbolic importance".

Australia's known uranium resources are the world's largest - 31 percent. In 2011-12, Australia produced 7,700 tonnes of uranium oxide concentrate.

The Australian Minister said India-US civil nuclear agreement was central to Australia's decision in opening up uranium trade with India.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Australian counterpart Julia Gillard had, during their meeting here in October, decided to launch negotiations for a civil nuclear pact.

In December last year, Labour Party led by Gillard had 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 Australia's first country-to-country agreement to sell the yellow cake to a country outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. India is not a signatory to NPT.

Ferguson asked Indian businessmen to invest in the fast- developing energy sector in Australia which is poised to be the largest exporter of LNG in the world.

He said Australia will have an export capacity of 20-25 million tonnes by early next year and will reach 70-80 million tonnes, becoming the largest exporter of LNG.

"It is a good opportunity for Indian businessmen to invest in Australian energy markets," the Minister said.

PTI