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India to seek uranium import from Australia: Sushilkumar Shinde
DNA/Perth: India will try to persuade Australia to supply uranium to it during a bilateral meeting on energy here tomorrow, seeking flexibility on Canberra's longstanding position that it would not export the nuclear raw material to countries who are not signatories to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
"There are plans to initiate some discussion for sourcing uranium from Australia. Though at present the Labour government in Perth has already made it clear that it would not supply uranium (to countries) who have not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty," Union power minister Sushilkumar Shinde said in Perth.
Shinde is leading an Indian delegation to participate in the two-day Australia-India Energy and Minerals Forum starting tomorrow.
India has set a revised target of producing 62,302mw of energy by 2011-12. At present, it produces 1.59 lakh mw of power, in which NTPC has a major share.
The government of prime minister Kevin Rudd has made it clear that Australia, a major producer of uranium, will not supply the material to NPT non-signatories -- Indian being one of them.
India is working on a clean energy portfolio, in which uranium-run plants would play vital role besides mega plans to tap wind and solar energy. At present, Nuclear Power Corporation of India produces power using uranium available in the country.
Besides, Shinde said he will seek Australian government's support for the acquiring of coal mines in Australia by Indian companies.
Indian firms like Coal India Ltd and NTPC are scouting for opportunities for acquiring coal mines in Australia even as the government there has proposed imposing a super profit tax of 40% on mining in the country.
Indian companies in the power, steel and other industrial segment including the likes of Tata Steel, Essar Group and others are already importing $6 billion worth of coal every year from Australia, which is expected to increase further.
Besides coal, Shinde said he will also talk about importing Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from Australia.
India will seek additional LNG supplies for its fuel-starved projects even though coal continues to play a major role in power generation in India.
India imported coal worth $6 billion from Australia during the last fiscal besides sourcing iron ore and gold of the same value. The domestic coal demand-supply gap is currently pegged at 80 million tonnes even as the country saw an over 7% growth in coal output at 531 million tonnes in 2009-10.
Moreover, with the government mandating all power companies to import 15% of their coal requirement for a project and blending it with the domestic coal, such companies have been on the look-out for overseas fuel linkages.
India imported 59 million tonnes of coal in 2009-10. The shipments are expected to touch 100 million mark in the current fiscal.