Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) has claimed to have discovered around 1,000 uranium favourable sites which could provide the required fuel for its proposed nuclear power plants.
Four of the 1000 sites were being mined and another nine with potential uranium reserves had been identified as very promising, Dawn quoted officials as saying.
"The effort was rewarded with the discovery of a large number of sites which have indicated their potential for hosting uranium reserves," it said quoting a latest official document.
It said that uranium favourable rocks constituted 12 per cent of the total areas of Pakistan.
"More than 65 per cent of the favourable sites have been scanned through airborne gamma-spectrometric and foot radiometry surveys for its potential, while 35 per cent is yet to be checked," the document said.
The initial exploration will be carried out throughout Pakistan using airborne, car-borne, foot survey, geo-chemical and geo-physical techniques to delineate anomalous sites.
After delineation of anomalous sites, a detailed exploration will be carried out by means of exploratory drilling to establish uranium reserves.
The officials said the PAEC had finalised a plan to establish more than 6,000 tons of reasonably assured reserves (RAR) of uranium by 2011 to fulfil the one-third requirement of fuel for producing 8,800mw of nuclear power.
They said the government was expected to make available Rs 4.5 billion to the PAEC to implement a five-year uranium exploration programme (2006-2011) in the four provinces.
The plan is expected to ensure indigenous supply of fuel for country's future needs. An increased nuclear power will facilitate the overall industrial as well as infrastructure development.
A separate provision will be required for mining projects discovered as a result of these investigations.
"It is estimated that 350 tons of yellow cake (U3O8) will be required annually to achieve the target of 8,800mw of nuclear power.
Therefore, the initiation of effort to bridge the gap between demand and supply of nuclear fuel is the need of the time," the document said.
The exploration to establish additional uranium reserves will be carried out through the establishment of mineral sector of the PAEC, including the Atomic Energy Minerals Centre, Lahore, and Detailed Exploration for Uranium projects in Kohat and Dera Ghazi Khan.
At present there are two nuclear power plants which produce 380mw of electricity -- 80mw KANUPP and 300mw CHASNUPP-1. For these, the PAEC mineral sector is partially fulfilling the requirement of uranium.
The document said that country's electricity supply and demand gap needed to be bridged with additional generation of electricity through various sources -- hydro, thermal, nuclear and solar.
The share of nuclear sector is presently very low for which the PAEC has embarked upon a programme for the installation of several nuclear power plants in the coming years.