CANBERRA, Australia, March 31 (UPI) -- Australia says it intends to remain a major exporter of uranium for nuclear power plants despite the nuclear emergency at Japan's Fukushima reactors.
Australia is one of the world's largest suppliers of uranium to fuel electricity-generating nuclear power stations around the world, Inter Press Service reported Wednesday.
The International Atomic Energy Agency says there are 442 nuclear reactors in operation in 30 countries with a further 65 under construction in 16 nations, with 27 being built in China alone.
Australia ships 9,000 to 10,000 tons of uranium oxide concentrate, about one-fifth of global demand, in an average year, the Australian Uranium Association said.
All of the uranium mined in Australia is sent overseas for use in civil power stations in countries that have signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty as well as a bilateral safeguards agreement with Australia.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard says the crisis in Japan, where radiation is escaping from that country's damaged power station, has not altered her government's position on the export of uranium.
"What is happening in Japan doesn't have any impact on my thinking about uranium exports from this country," Gillard said. "We do export uranium and we will continue to export uranium."