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World's top uranium firm Cameco eyes India for long haul

world Updated: Jul 06, 2010 16:00 IST

With last month's nuclear deal clearing the decks for Canadian companies to enter India, global uranium giant Cameco says it is eyeing the newly opened market with excitement.

The nuclear deal was signed June 27 during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit here for the G20 Summit. It will generate business worth billions of dollars for Canadian companies as India plans to add 12 new reactors by 2020.

"India does not have domestic uranium supply capable of supporting its expansion plans. This agreement will give us the opportunity to serve this market," Cameco director Lyle Krahn said.

"This is a market that is expanding rapidly and is expected to be relatively large in size," Krahn, whose company is based in Saskatoon and is already setting up office in Hyderabad, told IANS.

Needing additional 1,500-2,000 tonnes of uranium each year to raise share of nuclear energy, India's nuclear market has been projected to projected to grow to around $40 billion by 2020.

Currently, India produces only about 450 metric tonnes of uranium and its requirements are projected to grow tenfold by 2020.

"India's announced programme for the construction of new nuclear power plants is second only to China in its scope. This represents a large market opportunity for any uranium fuel supplier," said the top Cameco official.

"We are one of the world's largest uranium producers, with plans to double uranium production by 2018. It makes sense for a large, growing uranium producer to align itself with a growing market."

The world's largest trading uranium company, Cameco accounts for 15 percent of the global production.

Asked what kind of opportunities, apart from exports of uranium, his company was looking for in India, he said: "Our focus is on selling uranium to India. We intend to pursue long-term uranium sales agreements."

According to him, since India has nuclear technology similar to that of Canada's, Cameco will also be looking to participate across the fuel cycle from exploration of resources to fabrication.

"It is an exciting opportunity for us."

Spelling out the company's long-term plan in India, he said: "We will maintain a balance in the long-term uranium contracts in our portfolio, and we also look forward to adding long-term India contracts to our diversified portfolio."

With the hiring of Chaitanyamoy Ganguly, formerly of the International Atomic Energy Agency, as its India head, Cameco is expected to raise its presence in India soon.