India's uranium reserves are estimated at 115,000 tonnes but most of this is of low quality, thus necessitating imports for the country's nuclear plants, parliament was informed on Thursday.
"We have a reserve of 115,000 tonnes. However, the quality of domestic uranium is low and this necessitates imports. Right now, we are trying to balance the mismatch between the supply and the demand," Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office Prithviraj Chavan said during question hour in the Rajya Sabha.
The response came on a question posed by N.K. Singh (Janata Dal-United) on whether India's nuclear plants were starved due to the non-availability of uranium.
Posing a supplementary, former finance minister Yashwant Sinha asked whether there were plans to exploit reserves in Andhra Pradesh, where it was estimated that there was enough uranium to generate 10,000 MW of electricity a year for 50 years.
"We have already opened a new mine in Cuddapah (district of Andhra Pradesh). This should become operational in 2010. Environmental clearance is awaited for another mine in Andhra Pradesh," Chavan said.
He also pointed out that efforts were underway since 1993 to mine for uranium in Meghalaya but environmental clearance for this had not been forthcoming due to objections raised by a number of NGOs.
"We are hopeful of resolving this issue soon. Once that happens, it will substantially augment our requirements," Chavan maintained.
India had recently secured a waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to enable the resumption of nuclear commerce after a three-decade hiatus. Following this, Brazil, South Africa and Kazakhstan indicated that they are willing to sell uranium to India though no formal agreement has been signed on this.