Description: As a result of NSG restrictions, India cannot import the natural uranium required to fuel its Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs); consequently, it is forced to rely on the expediency of domestic uranium production. However, domestic production from mines and byproduct sources has not kept pace with demand from commercial reactors. This shortage has been officially confirmed by the Indian Planning Commission’s Mid-Term Appraisal of the country’s current Five Year Plan. The report stresses that as a result of the uranium shortage, Indian PHWR load factors have been continually decreasing. The Uranium Corporation of India Ltd (UCIL) operates a number of underground mines in the Singhbhum Shear Zone of Jharkhand, and it is all processed at a single mill in Jaduguda. UCIL is attempting to aggrandize operations by establishing new mines and mills in other states, but the requisite permit-gathering and development time will defer production until at least 2009. A significant portion of India’s uranium comes from byproduct sources, but a number of these are derived from accumulated stores that are nearing exhaustion. A current maximum estimate of indigenous uranium production is 430t/yr (230t from mines and 200t from byproduct sources); whereas, the current uranium requirement for Indian PHWRs is 455t/yr (depending on plant capacity factor). This deficit is exacerbated by the additional requirements of the Indian weapons program. Present power generation capacity of Indian nuclear plants is 4350 MWe. The power generation target set by the Indian Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) is 20,000 MWe by the year 2020. It is expected that around half of this total will be provided by PHWRs using indigenously supplied uranium with the bulk of the remainder provided by breeder reactors or pressurized water reactors using imported low-enriched uranium.
Date: January 15, 2007
Creator: Curtis, Michael M.
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