Nuclear resources – UPSC GS1

Bring out the present day position of exploitation and processing of nuclear minerals in India. (200 Words)

Major nuclear minerals required for India for its civil energy as well as for defence purposes are Uranium and Thorium. India is having less uranium reserves i.e. 1-2% of global uranium reserves and more thorium reserves i.e. total 25% of global reserves.
Presently in India only the public sector companies are allowed to mine the nuclear material reserves – they are
  • Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) for Uranium
  • India Rare earths Limited (IREL) for Thorium.
in case of uranium as of now India has got around 2.00 lac tonnes of identified uranium reserves mainly concentrated in Thummapalle ,AP (Around 95.00lac tonne), Jharkhand ,Meghalaya and Rajasthan and at other places in small quantities.
In respect of Thorium, mainly available in the monazite sands of East west coast of India.
Presently Nuclear Fuel complex (NFC), Hyderabad is developing and processing the uranium and thorium ore to make the usable uranium oxides.
The factors that are effecting the exploitation of nuclear material in India are:
  1. Land acquisition and rehabilitation problems in new uranium and thorium found places for establishing the mines
  2. Proximity to the drinking water resources
  3. In case of coastal belts the issue of reserve forest and environmental issues
  4. Public consensus on safety of mining
  5. Availability of viable technology economically and technically.
Recently NFC has discovered a cost effective technology for making weapon grade uranium oxides from uranium reserves of AP. Hence In view of the Indian government thrust on nuclear energy we can expect for increase in the productivity of uranium through ample investment by the government financially and in other required areas