New uranium hotspots identified

The city-based Atomic Minerals Directorate has identified new sources of uranium at Koppunuru in Guntur district and Bichun and Nayagaon areas of Jaipur district. If tapped, the new uranium resources are expected to give a significant boost to the country’s nuclear energy programme and bring down power cuts. According to AMD’s latest estimates, uranium resources in the country now stand at 1,72,390 tonnes available in the form of triuranium octoxide (U3O8). The uranium resource augmentation has touched 9,628 tonnes U3O8 in the last one year, taking the 11th Plan total resource addition to 65,122 tonnes, according to the directorate.

The AMD is now concentrating on acidic volcanic rocks to tap hidden uranium. Acidic volcanic rocks in western, southern and central India contain significant uranium deposits. Sindreth and Punaghar basins in Rajasthan and Nalpani in Chattisgarh are also on the AMD’s radar for new uranium resources. Acidic volcanic rocks elsewhere in the world have yielded significant quantities of uranium, and researchers hope to get a windfall from volcanic rocks too.

Research studies by AMD have revealed the presence of uranium mineralisation in Koppunuru in Palnadu region of Guntur in quartz arenite and pebbly arenite. “The nature of pebbly arenite, presence of colloform pyrite and carbonaceous matter make this rock unit in Guntur district a potential host for uranium mineralisation,” says a research report.

Significant uranium mineralisation was also detected in Jaipur district. The AMD teams carried out uranium extraction studies in Bhima basin, Gogi and Gulburga in Karnataka. Andhra Pradesh has one of the largest resources of uranium in India and the latest finding of uranium mineralisation in pockets of Karimnagar district has further increased the state’s share. AP has a little over 25 per cent of all uranium resources identified so far in the country. Mining activity has started in Tummalapalle mines in Kadapa, solving the uranium crunch to a large extent.

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