Not in 'public interest' to disclose quantity of uranium extracted in country: Govt

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New Delhi, Mar 18 (PTI) There are a total of eight uranium mines in the country, but it is not in the 'public interest' to disclose the quantity of uranium extracted from these mines, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Thursday.

In a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said there are eight uranium mines in the country -- seven in Jharkhand and one in Andhra Pradesh.

'It is not in the public interest to disclose the quantity of uranium extracted from these mines,' he said.

Uranium is processed through Uranium Corporation of India Ltd (UCIL), a public sector undertaking under the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).

Singh, the minister of state in the Prime Minister's Office, said the grade of the ore mined from various deposits is very poor in India compared to that of other countries.

The ore bodies are narrow and not suitable for extraction by mass mining methods, he said.

These deposits are also not suitable for extraction by low cost in-situ leaching technology which is a common method of extraction of uranium concentrate in many of the major uranium producing countries.

On the cost of processing of the ore, he said, 'India also adopts alkali leaching technology for extraction of uranium from very low grade ore occurring in dolostone host rock in Tummalapalle region in Andhra Pradesh, which cannot be extracted by acid leaching technology.' 'This is a costlier process developed indigenously and has been adopted successfully. In view of these constraints, the extraction and processing cost of uranium in India is higher compared to that of other countries,' Singh said.

In response to another question, he said India has entered into an agreement with Russia for supply of fuel for Russian Reactors at Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) throughout the operation period of power units.

Uranium purchase agreement has also been entered with Canada, Kazakhstan, Russia and Uzbekistan.

He added that Inter Governmental Agreement (IGA) for cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy have been signed with 17 countries like Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Czech Republic, the European Union, France, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Namibia, the Republic of Korea, Russia, Sri Lanka, the UK, the US and Vietnam. PTI PR SNE