TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – Uranium One CEO Chris Sattler expects to see India emerge as a buyer of uranium companies around the world, increasing competition for a limited number of assets, he said in an interview this week.
Bloomberg reported on Friday the country is talking to Kazakhstan, Niger and Namibia about buying mines in those countries, citing chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission Srikumar Banerjee.
“We’ve seen a lot of government enterprises being active in trying to buy assets to secure long-term supply contracts, so I would not be surprised to see an Indian State-owned enterprise doing the same thing,” Sattler told Mining Weekly Online.
“It is a very competitive market, and quality assets are very scarce.”
Other governments looking to secure uranium supplies for their growing nuclear fleets include China, Russia, South Korea and Japan, though the Fukushima-Daiichi disaster might largely remove Japan from the race, as Prime Minister Nato Kan announced earlier this week the country won’t build any more reactors.
China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corp, one of two major Chinese nuclear power companies, in March made a £756-million bid for Kalahari Minerals, which owns an indirect 43% stake in the Namibian Husab uranium deposit, said to be the fifth-biggest in the world.
The parastatal decided to walk away from the bid this week after running into problems with the UK Takeover Panel when it tried to lower the informal offer in the wake of the Japanese disaster.
Russia’s Atomredmetzoloto last year bought a 51% stake in Uranium One for $610-million and stakes in two Kazakh mines.
South Korea’s Korea Electric Power Corp has also bought stakes in North American uranium miners.
India has 20 reactors in operation, and four under construction, according to the World Nuclear Association.
The country expects to have 20 000 MW of nuclear capacity by 2020 and 63 000 MW by 2032, the associations website says.
“I see India as a significant driver of nuclear growth, but it’s probably more heavily weighted towards the second half of the decade,” said Sattler.
“What they’re doing now is ramping up their existing reactor fleet to full capacity. A lot of those reactors were not running at full capacity, so you’ll see a little bit of an increase in uranium demand.”
China plans to have nuclear generating capacity of 40 000 MW by 2020.