Energy-hungry India will consider acquiring Australian uranium mining assets if a controversial ban on exports to the nuclear power is lifted, according to a report.
Australia has the world’s largest reserves of uranium and senior New Delhi officials said the country could move to buy up assets if a ban on sales is removed, as favoured by Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
“Once Australia comes into the fold all properties will be reviewed,” said A.K. Sarangi, deputy general manager of strategic planning at the Uranium Corporation of India, the government agency responsible for mining and purchases.
“Australian deposits will be a target along with assets in other countries,” he added to The Australian newspaper.
“If we decide we need to attain properties abroad and the Australian government agrees then Australian assets are also considerations.”
Federation of Indian Mineral Industries chief R.K. Sharma agreed.
“I think it would be very desirable to invest in Australian uranium assets because Australia is a very investor-friendly country,” he was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
Booming Indian companies have already invested billions of dollars in Australian coal assets in the past year to fuel the country’s fast-growing economy.
While Canberra exports uranium to China, Japan, Taiwan and the United States, India has been excluded because New Delhi has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a prerequisite Gillard’s Labor Party puts on sales.
But the prime minister believes it is time to change, with the subject likely to dominate the annual Labor Party conference next month where any policy switch must be ratified.
India is expected to increase its use of nuclear power from the current three percent of electricity generation to 40 percent by 2050.