Massive uranium deposits found in Andhra Pradesh

Discussion in 'Economy & Infrastructure' started by smartindian, Mar 20, 2011.

  1. smartindian

    smartindian Regular Member

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    T.S. Subramanian
    Sunday, Mar 20, 2011

    Potentiality of the area is huge; it will be one of the top 20 of the world's reserves: Atomic Minerals Directorate

    Tummalapalle discovery is very large, though it is not a rich ore: AEC

    UCIL is pressing ahead with commissioning of a mine
    CHENNAI: Huge deposits of natural uranium, which promise to be one of the top 20 of the world's reserves, have been found in the Tummalapalle belt in the southern part of the Kadapa basin in Andhra Pradesh.

    The Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD), which explores uranium in the country, has so far discovered 44,000 tonnes of natural uranium (U3O8) in just 15 line km of the 160-km long belt.

    P.B. Maithani, Director, AMD, is confident that “the potentiality of the area is huge” and that it will be “one of the top 20 of the world's deposits where more than 60,000 tonnes of uranium is available.” He is sure that the uranium deposits will occur over the entire length of 160 km of the Tummalapalle belt with a “depth consistency” of about 400 metres. The uranium resources found so far can sustain a generation of 5,000 MWe of nuclear power.

    Srikumar Banerjee, Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, described the discovery as “very large although it is not a rich ore.” He added that “there is a possibility of further extension” of the ore on either side of Tummalapalle. About 4,000 tonnes of uranium deposits have also been found at Gogi in Gulbarga district of Karnataka. “Gogi is not a large deposit but it is a rich ore,” said Dr. Banerjee.

    The Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL), meanwhile, is pressing ahead with the commissioning of a mine at Tummalapalle. It will have a state-of-the-art decline in a few months. A mill to process the uranium into yellow cake will start production at Tummalapalle next year. The yellow cake is converted into fuel bundles and fed into the nuclear power reactor. Both the AMD and the UCIL belong to the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).

    [​IMG]


    Special type of occurrence

    Mr. Maithani said: “The continuity and tonnage of the Tummalapalle deposits is very high although the grade is medium.” The AMD earlier worked in the area and found more than 14,000 tonnes of U3O8. After developing the leachability of the natural uranium ore and tackling other issues, the AMD started drilling again in the area. “We expect that the continuity will be there up to 160 km. There may be some barren sites in between. But geologically, they are the same — the same rock is above and below the ground,” he said. He was sure the belt would yield more than 60,000 tonnes of U3O8. He called Tummalapalle “a special type of occurrence and you don't get this in any other part of the world. It is strata-bound.”

    “The nuclear energy programme of the country can be definitely tailored as per the availability of resources we have seen so far in just two blocks – Tummalapalle and Kanampalle. But there is a continuation at Motuntulapalle, Muthanapalle, Rachakuntapalle and so on. These are situated adjacent to Tummalapalle blocks. We are confident that sizeable resources can be added from this area,” said Mr. Maithani.

    The AMD earlier found uranium deposits in Nalgonda district and it was confident that it could locate reserves in the adjoining Guntur district, where its men were working now.

    About 4,000 tonnes of U3O8 deposits were discovered in the Bhima basin at Gogi in Karnataka. Gradewise, the Gogi ore was richer than the Tummalapalle ore but it did not continue over a long distance. “But we may get a number of Gogis with similar fracture/fault-controlled uranium-mineralisation setup in the nearby areas,” Mr. Maithani said.

    “Fracture-controlled mineralisation of uranium has been found at Rohil in Sikar district in Rajasthan and the grade of the ore is similar to that of the Gogi ore. The Rohil belt is 130 km long and there is continuity of occurrence of uranium ore. The Rohil belt may yield between 5,000 tonnes and 10,000 tonnes of uranium,” he said.

    In Meghalaya, about 10,000 tonnes (at Domiasiat) and 8,000 tonnes (Wakhyn) of deposits were discovered several years ago. But the UCIL was unable to mine them because of socio-economic problems, said S.K. Mathur, Scientific Officer, AMD.

    India has 19 operating Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) that use natural uranium as fuel. It is building more PHWRs of 700 MWe capacity each.

    http://www.hindu.com/2011/03/20/stories/2011032063961400.htm
     
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  3. smartindian

    smartindian Regular Member

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    According to the report it will 20th largest mine in the world , good going India
     
  4. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    We may not need Australian uranium after all??
     
  5. adyonfire4

    adyonfire4 Regular Member

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    Uranium and Thorium something we will export to Australia in coming years but we need more research on these Grt going India!!!!
     
  6. GPM

    GPM Tihar Jail Banned

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    Please come down to earth.

    It would not be easy to extract it, not in the present scenerio. Too many vested forces are there to resist mining. Jairam to environment hounds, locals, anti land aquisitions lobbies etc.
     
  7. Rage

    Rage DFI TEAM Stars and Ambassadors

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    Good news, this will help eliminate dependency on outside suppliers, at least until the thorium cycle is fully developed.

    Yes, legalities and modes of compensation remain a problem, but that is something for us to solve, not for dependency on someone else. A bigger problem is I think the refinement of the uranium enrichment process, and the considerable wastage that now results.
     
  8. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    India Steps Up Uranium Exploration After Record Discovery - WSJ.com

    India Steps Up Uranium Exploration After Record Discovery

    MUMBAI –India is expediting exploration efforts to more than double the reserves of uranium at a site in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh where it made its largest-ever discovery of the metal used as a nuclear fuel, senior government officials said.

    The discovery in the Tummalapalle region in Andhra Pradesh currently has established uranium reserves of about 64,000 tons, officials at the Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research said in a recent interview. The directorate functions as a unit of the Department of Atomic Energy, which oversees India's nuclear plans.

    Of the total reserves, about 49,000 tons were discovered in the past four years in the area that had established reserves of 15,000 tons, the officials said.

    "Our plan is to take [the reserves] to 150,000 tons by the end of the 12th five-year plan," said one of the officials. "We will do it and we have the confidence." India's 12th five-year economic plan starts April 1, 2012.

    The South Asian nation had uranium resources of 149,654 tons as of end-October 2010, according to government data. Most reserves are concentrated in the southern and eastern regions.

    The Tummalapalle reserves will boost India's energy security by reducing dependence of the world's second-fastest-growing major economy on imports.

    India's nuclear power plants have operated much below capacity as local uranium reserves were low. The country also couldn't import nuclear fuel for several years due to nuclear isolation as it's not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

    A pact with the U.S. in 2008 and a subsequent waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group brought civilian reactors under safeguards for fuel imports.

    Though the Tummalapalle, deposits are of a slightly lower grade, they are vast and extensive, the official said, adding that uranium content in the ore is about 500 parts per million, or 0.05%.

    Only a 15 kilometer stretch in the Tummalapalle region has been explored so far and uranium deposits are estimated to be present in the larger Cuddapah basin, P.S. Parihar, additional director for operations at the directorate, said in a separate interview.

    "There is high potential. Right now, our hands are full with the exploration in this area," Mr. Parihar said, adding that in five years, exploration efforts would expand further afield.

    Mr. Parihar said the production plan will be decided by state-run Uranium Corp. of India Ltd.
     
  9. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    Asia Times Online :: India finds a uranium treasure


    India finds a uranium treasure

    MUMBAI - It's now a uranium treasure. Following the recent US$22 billion find of gold, diamonds and all manner of trinkets in a south Indian temple, explorers in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh have found one of the world's largest deposits of uranium.
    The Tummalepalle mine in the Cuddapah district was estimated in 2007 to have nearly 50,000 tonnes of uranium ore, enough to feed an 8,000 megawatt nuclear power plant until year 2047. [1] Explorers at the Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research, India's official uranium hunters, now estimate the region could provide three times as much - or about 150,000 tonnes of uranium ore.

    The uranium mega-find was disclosed on July 18 by Atomic


    Energy Commission chairman Srikumar Banerjee, when inaugurating the second pair of 700-megawatt indigenously built nuclear reactors in Rawatbhata town in Rajasthan, northwestern India. The find matches the world's existing single-largest source of uranium, Australia's McArthur River mine.

    Uranium, discovered by German chemist Martin Klaproth in 1789 and named after the planet Uranus, is the world's only naturally occurring fissionable element. Fission, or splitting of the nucleus into smaller neutrons, releases a chain reaction of tremendous energy and more neutrons. The vast quantity of heat released in this process is used in modern nuclear reactors to generate electricity.

    The Tummalepalle trove nearly doubles the existing quantity of uranium ore in India, according to state-owned Uranium Corp of India Ltd (UCIL). The 44-year-old company is developing Tummalepalle and 11 other uranium mines and two ore processing plants across the country.

    India, one of 31 countries with nuclear-powered electricity, gets less than 3% of its energy from nuclear plants. The country has 27 of the world's 450 nuclear reactors that in total generate approximately 350 gigawatts (1 gigawatt = 1,000 megawatts), or about 16% of the world's electricity. [2].

    India plans to nearly double its current capacity of 4.7 GW to 7.3 GW by March 2012, and triple nuclear-sourced energy by 2020 - still only half of China's planned capacity of 40 GW by 2020, and only a small part of India's electricity needs.

    "In the coming five decades, though coal-based thermal power plants will continue to be the mainstay of electricity generation, the share of nuclear power has to be significantly expanded," says a report "Strategy for Growth of Electrical Energy in India", from the Department of Atomic Energy. The study expects nuclear power to become the second-largest source of India's electricity within the next 50 years.

    "The Tummalepalle mining discovery was a gradual process," said S K Malhotra, spokesman of the Mumbai-based Department of Atomic Energy, which oversees India's nuclear progam and functions under the country's Atomic Energy Commission. "Exploration has been going since the 1990s, when initial estimates were about 20,000 tonnes of uranium reserves. Now we estimate it to be about 150,000 tonnes."

    India, however, faces severe hurdles as it seeks to make the most of its new-found treasure, not least in the controversial India-US nuclear deal of 2008, the accord to circumvent the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) under which India was denied nuclear technology and resources since exploding its first nuclear device in May 1974. [3]

    United States nuclear reactor equipment companies such as General Electric-Hitachi and Westinghouse were expected to earn billions from India through contracts for nuclear power plants following the agreement, which then-US president George W Bush strongly pushed as one of the "highlights" of his presidency. It was also the deal that nearly brought down Manmohan Singh's government in 2008 over nationwide opposition.

    But riches from India's nuclear expansion riches have not yet flowed the US way; one hindrance is clause 17(b) in India's Civil Nuclear Liability Bill of 2010. The legislation makes suppliers of reactors liable for 80 years for any industrial accident, both to the Indian government and private litigators.

    That's okay for state-run nuclear reactor builders in France and Russia backed with taxpayer money, but not for privately owned firms in the US. So French companies like Areva and Russia's Rosatom, rather than their US counterparts, are securing chunks of the $150 billion India is spending on developing its nuclear power industry.

    Last December, Areva, the world largest supplier of nuclear reactors, signed a $7 billion agreement with the Nuclear Power Corp of India to build six nuclear reactors at the Jaitapur nuclear plant in Maharashtra. In March last year, agreements were signed for Russia to build six Russian-designed nuclear reactors and assist in building Indian-designed reactors.

    United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to New Delhi this week - ostensibly for the second Indo-US Strategic Dialogue - was also aimed at clearing the way for US nuclear reactor companies to enter India.

    Clinton failed to make much headway, with suspicions of nuclear plant safety having increased in India, as elsewhere, since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster that followed the earthquake and tsunami in northeast Japan in March this year. It would be political suicide for Manmohan to ease liability conditions in the nuclear liability bill, as Clinton demanded.

    India's indigenously designed reactors have safety features that do not require manual intervention, as in the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.

    Uranium Corp of India expects to process the uranium ore at the Tummalepalle mine into yellow cake by 2012, in the process leading up to using purified uranium in a reactor. [4] The mining facilities and ore-processing plants are being built.

    The quality of uranium ore found in India, though, is relatively poor compared to other countries, with less than 0.1% of the actual uranium found in one tonne of uranium ore. "With about 0.04% to 0.05% of uranium per tonne of ore, we need to invest much more effort to get the uranium compared to other countries," Department of Atomic Energy spokesman Swapnesh Kumar Malhotra told Asia Times Online.

    India spends about $100 to $140 to extract one kilogram of uranium. The material can be extracted from Australia's much richer ore at less than $40 per kg. Australia owns 43% of the world's known high-yielding uranium ore, followed by countries like Kazakhstan (21%), Canada (18%) and South Africa (8%).

    Australia refuses to sell uranium to India because of Canberra's support for the Non-Proliferation Treaty. That continued refusal is "not anti-India", Peter Varghese Australian High Commissioner to India, said this week.

    "Our policy on uranium sales is not anti-India policy but pro-NPT policy," Varghese told the Press Trust of India.

    India's Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research has identified about 4,000 tonnes of uranium deposits at Gogi in Gulbarga district of Karnataka, with a very rich ore.

    But like the 2008 India-US nuclear deal, trouble invariably follows India's nuclear riches and projects. New uranium ore processing plants and nuclear plants, such as in Jaitapur, in Maharashtra state, are tangled in conflict with locals protesting at having to live near quantities of one of the most valuable and deadliest known metals, and land acquisition troubles.

    Trouble seems to follow treasured metals like a shadow, a reality the first uranium miners appear to have foreseen. The earliest known instance of uranium mining was in early 16th century in Germany, in the silver mining mountain town of Sankt Joachimsthal, near Bohemia and Saxony. The miners discovered a black mineral that they named pech blende - from the German words pech, meaning "bad luck", and blende meaning "mineral".

    In 1789, German chemist Martin Klaproth isolated uranium oxide from pitch blend, the "bad luck" mineral. Less than 200 years later, the world was never the same again, with Hiroshima, Nagasaki, weapons of mass destruction and the accident in the Russian Chernobyl nuclear plant in 1986 that gradually killed over 4,000 people and affected more than three million through nuclear radiation.

    Similar "bad luck" is said to haunt metals and stones in the $22 billion temple treasure found in South India. A week after the discovery on July 8, India's Supreme Court forbade the opening of the Vault "B", the sixth chamber unopened for over 100 years and said to contain treasures greater than those found in the other five chambers. Locals believe the gods and dark forces protect this treasure, the world's single-largest treasure find in one location.

    The Supreme Court and the rest of India have chosen to let sleeping dogs and the vast treasures lie undisturbed, leaving it to wiser times to decide. Nine days after the Supreme Court decision to maintain the status quo, lawyer T P Sundarrajan, who exposed the treasure to the world with his petition to the Supreme Court, died on July 17. He was 70 years old, and took ill suddenly two days earlier.

    Locals declared that the deadly curse that protects the temple treasure killed Sundarrajan. Others said he died of natural causes, without too much suffering, and of old age.

    The miners in Medieval Germany may have been more accurate in not calling the first uranium mineral "pech" or "bad luck", but naming it "wahl", the German word for "choice". India's choice appears to remain committed to digging up and using as much uranium as it can.

    Notes
    1. One megawatt equals one million watts. A 60 watt electricity bulb consumes 60 watts of electricity in one hour.
    2. Sixteen countries generate more than 25% of their total electricity requirements from nuclear reactors. France gets over 75% of electricity from nuclear energy, while South Korea is the only Asian country dependant on one-third of electricity power from nuclear plants.
    3. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) came into force in 1970. India has refused to sign the NPT on grounds of it being discriminatory, since it allows five nuclear-armed powers - USA, Britain, Russia, France and China - to maintain their own nuclear weapons arsenal while telling the rest of the world not to own nuclear weapons.
    4. The uranium ore is crushed, ground to a fine grain that is mixed with water. This produces a slurry of ore particles that are extracted from water - the process is called leaching - with either acid or alkali, depending on the nature of the ore. Leaching causes uranium to dissolve in the solution. Most of other minerals in the ore are not dissolved. This solid residue, called tailings, is separated from the uranium-rich liquid by allowing them to sink down, and the remainder of residue filtered out.
    The uranium is then recovered from the liquid by techniques using solvent extraction, direct precipitation or ion exchange, based on nature of the particular ore. The extracted uranium is dried to produce a yellow powder called yellowcake that is stored in steel drums. The yellow cake contains 70% to 95% of uranium that is shipped off to processing centuries for more purification into metal.
     

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