China 'in nuclear power advance'

A chimney billows smoke from a coal-burning power station behind powerlines and railway tracks in Beijing
Image caption China is determined to reduce its heavy reliance on coal as an energy source

China has developed its own technologies that will enable it to reprocess spent nuclear fuel, state television has reported.

The country has launched an ambitious programme to build a number of new nuclear power stations.

This latest breakthrough could provide fuel for those plants for years to come.

Chinese scientists have apparently been working on this technology for 24 years.

State television says they have now perfected a procedure that will allow them to reprocess spent nuclear fuel.

It is a complex and costly procedure but the recycled material can be used again to fuel nuclear power stations.

China is not the first country to develop its own reprocessing facilities. France, Britain and India are just three countries that already have their own operations.

But this breakthrough will have major implications in China.

The country is building a number of new nuclear power plants in an effort to diversify its energy sources.

At the moment it mostly relies on coal. This latest development could help its nuclear power programme.

State television says the country currently has enough known uranium for at most 70 years.

It claims this new process could mean that supply will now last for 3,000 years.

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