Indian government officials have opened talks with Uzbekistan in an attempt to secure supplies of uranium for its growing nuclear industry, as the south Asian giant pushes to increase its share of Central Asia's rapidly growing energy output.
Indian department atomic energy officials visited Uzbekistan in the first week of October to discuss the issue, the Times of India reports. India wants to import around 2,000 tonnes of uranium per year from Uzbekistan, starting in 2014, according to the newspaper, and a deal is said to be close. The visit follows a meeting between Indian foreign minister Salman Khurshid and Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov in Tashkent last month.
India already generates 4.78GW from its 19 nuclear reactors, and is planning to build new power stations in the coming years to help meet its growing demand for energy. Under a national programme, a total of 16 reactors were due to be installed in 2012-2022. Both Kazakhstan and Mongolia already export uranium to India, and the south Asian state is now looking to diversify its sources.
"It is not that we are focusing on Central Asia only, but the region happens to have proven reserves of uranium," said one of the officials. "We will try to procure uranium from wherever possible ... We are also looking at Niger and Namibia.
Others are also eyeing Uzbekistan's deposits of the nuclear fuel. In July, the country's Navoi Mining and Metallurgical Combine (NMMC) signed a deal with Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) to jointly explore for the heavy metal.
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