India boosts uranium exploration

March 17, 2006 at 1:02 PM
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CHITRIAL, India, March 17 (UPI) -- As India awaits the benefits of its nuclear agreement with the United States, it is intensifying its exploration activities for indigenous uranium deposits.

The Department of Atomic Energy Atomic Minerals Division has invited bids for exploratory drilling in Chitrial in Nalgonda district in Andhra Pradesh. The contract is estimated to be worth up to $564,000.

Atomic Minerals Division officials said that the bids will be opened on March 29 with work beginning the following month.

Initial geological surveys indicate that Chitrial's potential uranium deposits are spread over 20 square miles. The Atomic Minerals Division said that the Chitrial area "is expected to add significantly to the uranium resource of the country."

Environmentalists fear that uranium mining in Chitrial might pollute the Nagarjunasagar reservoir, a major source of drinking water for the district.

The Press Trust of India reported on March 16 that the Atomic Minerals Division is considering several other sites besides Chitrial for exploratory drilling. These include Deshnur, Baskati, Silekjhodi, Chirwa and the Sakra fracture zone in the Bijawar-Vindhyan basins.

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