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India: 'Massive' uranium find in Andhra Pradesh

image captionExploration work is underway in Tummalapalle

India's southern state of Andhra Pradesh may have one of the largest reserves of uranium in the world, the country's chief nuclear officer says.

Studies show Tummalapalle in Kadapa district could have reserves of 150,000 tonnes of the mineral, Atomic Energy Commission chief S Banerjee said.

India has estimated reserves of about 175,000 tonnes of uranium.

Analysts say the new reserves would still not be sufficient to meet India's growing nuclear energy needs.

Mr Banerjee said that studies at Tummalapalle have shown that the area "had a confirmed reserve of 49,000 tonnes and recent surveys indicate that this figure could go up even threefold" and become one of the world's largest uranium reserves.

The uranium deposits in the area appeared to be spread over 35km (21 miles), he said, adding that exploration work was going on in the area.

Mr Banerjee said the new findings were a "major development", but India's own uranium reserves would still fall short of meeting its nuclear energy needs.

"The new findings would only augment the indigenous supply of uranium. There would still be a significant gap. We would still have to import," he was quoted as saying by The Hindu newspaper.

India is planning to set up some 30 reactors over as many years and get a quarter of its electricity from nuclear energy by 2050.

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