Search­ing for a larger slice of do­mes­tic ‘yel­low­cake’

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By ZHENG XIN

Ura­nium ex­plo­ration in China has been stepped up to un­earth new re­serves to fuel the coun­try’s state-of-the-art nu­clear re­ac­tor pro­gram.

Yu Zhip­ing, gen­eral man­ager of CGNPC Ura­nium Re­sources Co Ltd, con­firmed that the com­pany has been look­ing to in­crease its sup­ply of do­mes­tic de­posits known as “yel­low­cake”.

“China has sub­stan­tial de­posits of ura­nium, which is wide­spread,” Yu said

“In the past two decades, we have ex­plored sev­eral sand­stone ura­nium de­posits in north­ern China’s basins,” he added about CGNPC, which is a sub­sidiary of China Gen­eral Nu­clear Power Corp.

“We plan to boost do­mes­tic ura­nium sup­plies and en­sure en­ergy sources for de­vel­op­ing nu­clear power.”

In 2008, China dis­cov­ered its first 10,000-met­ric-ton level leach­ing sand­stone ura­nium de­posit in the Yili basin in the north­west­ern Xin­jiang Uygur au­tonomous re­gion.

Four years later, an­other large leach­ing sand­stone ura­nium de­posit was dis­cov­ered in the Day­ing area of the north­ern In­ner Mon­go­lia au­tonomous re­gion.

The Yili basin, which has large ura­nium de­posits, will be turned into a pro­duc­tion base, ac­cord­ing to Yu. An­nual ca­pac­ity will be about 1,000 tons.

There is also sub­stan­tial po­ten­tial for ura­nium de­posits in the Er­dos Basin and t he Songliao Basin in North­east China.

“As a coun­try, we are not lack­ing in ura­nium re­sources,” Yu, at CGNPC, said. “What we need is ad­vanced ex­plo­ration meth­ods.”

Low prices in the past five years have seen China stock­pile ura­nium re­serves.

Li Ning, dean of the School of En­ergy Re­search un­der Xi­a­men Univer­sity, felt it made sense for the world’s sec­ond largest econ­omy to im­port more ura­nium.

“But do­mes­tic sup­plies are also sub­stan­tial,” Li said. “China has large ver­i­fied de­posits and ris­ing de­mand will not im­pact the price since the mar­ket is over­sup­plied.”

In the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) for en­ergy de­vel­op­ment, nu­clear power fa­cil­i­ties gen­er­at­ing more than 30 mil­lion kilo­watts were slated to be con­structed in China.

By 2020, the world’s sec­ond largest econ­omy ex­pects to have 58 gi­gawatts of in­stalled nu­clear power, an in­crease of 16.5 per­cent yearon-year.

“The coun­try will con­tinue de­vel­op­ing nu­clear power safely and ef­fi­ciently, while speed­ing up the con­struc­tion of nu­clear projects along the coastal re­gions,” the de­vel­op­ment plan stated.

The coun­try will con­tinue de­vel­op­ing nu­clear power safely and ef­fi­ciently.” The 13th Five-Year Plan for en­ergy de­vel­op­ment

CHEN XIAOGEN / FOR CHINA DAILY

A vis­i­tor learns about China’s third-gen­er­a­tion nu­clear tech­nol­ogy at an ex­hi­bi­tion in Beijing on April 29.

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