Australia banking on uranium pact to gain edge over Eurasian rivals

Updated - December 04, 2021 11:28 pm IST

Published - September 11, 2014 07:30 pm IST - New Delhi

Within days of the India-Australia nuclear deal being inked, the Oceanic nation has gradually started gearing up to outbid Eurasian countries in selling uranium to India. 

At about 31 per cent of the world total, Australia has the largest known reserves of uranium. 

Just before concluding the civil nuclear agreement with India, Australia had drawn the curtain on its uranium trade with Russia, which is one of the largest suppliers of uranium to India. 

India is the only non-NPT signatory to which Australia will be supplying uranium. Besides Russia, India imports most of its uranium from Kazakhstan and France.

The Eastern Australian state of Queensland, which recently allowed resumption of uranium mining activity after a two-decade moratorium, hopes to gain from the nuclear deal signed between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott. 

“Uranium exploration (in Queensland) is entering a new era due to change in government policy…a new regulatory framework has taken effect from July which offers serious economic advantage for companies looking to mine uranium,” Parag Shirmane, Commissioner for South Asian investment, government of Queensland.

There is little domestic demand for uranium in Australia and the focus therefore is on exports, which are slated to cross 10,000 tonnes by 2017-18. 

Mr. Shirmane said Queensland had the potential to emerge as a reliable source of uranium, coal, natural gas and rare earth metals, for India. 

“We have removed red tape and basically brought uranium exploration and mining activities under the same umbrella as any other mining activity…this often doesn’t get played up very much but works wonders in easing business,” he said.

But how does Australia plan to go one up on Eurasian countries from where India imports the bulk of its uranium.

“I believe Australia has an edge in ensuring established, reliable supply with low sovereign risk…then the mineral itself…which is in abundance and easy to access,” said Mr. Shirmane.

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