NEWS | India & Mongolia to Commence Talks on Uranium Trade

NEWS | India & Mongolia to Commence Talks on Uranium Trade

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NEWS | India & Mongolia to Commence Talks on Uranium Trade
Map Attribute: Citizens' Nuclear Information Center

India and Mongolia plan to begin governmental talks in March 2017 on trading in uranium, a mineral abundant in the land-locked Asian country and a key attraction for New Delhi as it seeks new sources of fuel for its ever-growing chain of nuclear plants by indulging into a tighter partnership with a nation on China's periphery.

Also, With these talks, Mongolia will be testing its traditional dependence on China by increasing its engagement with other countries i.e., going beyond China's dominion.

Mongolia has a long history of uranium exploration commencing with joint Russian and Mongolian endeavors from the 1950s involving an investment of some US$ 200 million then. Initial success was obtained in the Saddle Hills area of northeastern Mongolia (Dornod and Gurvanbulag regions) where uranium is present in volcanogenic sediments. Prior to 1960, numerous uranium occurrences were discovered in the deposits of brown coal in eastern Mongolia.

Over 1970-90 government geological surveys covered much of the country and based on these the country was classified into four uranium provinces: Mongol-Priargun, Gobi-Tamsag, Khentei-Daur and Northern Mongolian. Each has different geology and hosts different deposit types. Within these provinces, nine uranium deposits and about 100 uranium occurrences were identified.

Chart Attribute: Mongolian Uranium Resources / Updated from Red Book 2016 to Jan 2015, except Dornod which is not mentioned prospectively / Source: World Nuclear Association

Chart Attribute: Mongolian Uranium Resources and Projects / Updated from Red Book 2016 to Jan 2015, except Dornod which is not mentioned prospectively / Source: World Nuclear Association

Mongolia, geographically sandwiched between two giant powers - Russia and China, has traditionally followed a policy similar to Nepal's with India and China: of carefully balancing and rebalancing its ties with the two larger neighbors from time to time.

Though India and Mongolia signed a civilian nuclear deal for uranium supplies way back on September 14, 2009, unfortunately, India is still awaiting its first uranium supply from Mongolia. Since, then talks between New Delhi and Ulan Bator on the import of uranium by India have so far remained informal, partly because Mongolia lacks clarity in its regulatory framework for the sale of minerals to other countries under its Nuclear Energy Law 2009.[1] As India has set a target of generating 63,000MW of nuclear power by 2032 - it currently generates less than 10,000MW. Thus, it quickly needs to secure steady import routes of uranium for its nuclear energy supply chain.

However, the upcoming meeting comes at a time tensions are high between India and China, and Beijing is pressuring Ulan Bator to abandon any steps it views as provocative. Now, it's a time to watch these two nations on how they proceed with negotiations for a prospective first sale and how India transport uranium from the land-locked country.

EndNote:

[1] The new Law gives the Mongolian government the right to take ownership without payment of not less than 51% of the shares of a project or joint venture if the uranium mineralization was discovered by state-funded exploration, and not less than 34% if state funding was not used to find the mineralization. It gives the State Administrative Authority the responsibility to implement and enforce state policy on the exploration and development of deposits of radioactive minerals and establishment of nuclear energy, including the power to grant, suspend or revoke any licenses granted pursuant to the Nuclear Energy Law. Licenses to conduct uranium exploration and production of any radioactive minerals must be obtained under this law.

With reporting by Calcutta Telegraph, and World Nuclear Association
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