NEW DELHI (Reuters) - A huge deposit of uranium India has found in a southern state could turn out to be among the biggest reserves of the mineral in the world, reports said on Tuesday citing the head of the country's atomic energy department.
The Tumalappalli mine in Andhra Pradesh state has confirmed 49,000 tonnes of ore and there are indications that it could hold reserves totaling three times its current size, The Times of India quoted Srikumar Banerjee as saying.
"If that be the case, it will become the largest uranium mine in the world," Banerjee, secretary at the Department of Atomic Energy, said, adding production will start in six months.
The mine's proven reserve is enough to support a 8,000 mega watts nuclear power plant for 40 years, the report added.
India plans to expand its nuclear power generation capacity from 4.7 giga watts (GW) now to 7.3 GW by the end of March 2012 and 20 GW by 2020.
To make this possible, the country has signed a landmark nuclear power deal with the United States and opened up its estimated $150 billion nuclear power market to private reactor builders such as GE and Areva.
India, which has a total installed power generation capacity of 164 gigawatts (GW), aims to raise it to 187 GW by the end of March 2012. Even this target is modest, given a 12 percent peak-hour power shortfall that crimps the country's near 9 percent economic growth.
(Compiled by Ratnajyoti Dutta; Editing by Krittivas Mukherjee)