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Full Version: Govt to utilise 578 tonnes uranium for power generation
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By Ijaz Kakakhel

ISLAMABAD: To overcome power shortfall through nuclear resources, the government plan to undertake 'Shanawa Uranium Mining Project, MPB-2', which would help in utilizing the 578 tonnes confirmed uranium reserves in district Karak NWFP, sources told Daily Times here on Saturday.

The scheme would cost the government Rs 2.348 billion including Rs 1.260 billion as Foreign Exchange Component (FEC). The project was planned to mine uranium from Shanwa Uranium Mine, District Karak for Nuclear Power Plants. In Situ Leach (ISL) mining method would be used to produce uranium using alkaline solution (lixiviant) with Hydrogen Peroxide as an oxidant. The lixiviant while traveling from injection to production well will dissolve uranium and this pregnant uranium bearing solution (leach liquor) will be pumped out to the surface and fed to the chemical processing plant to recover uranium. The production of uranium will start by July 2010.

The sources claimed that at present the fuel mix in the power generation was dominated by fossil fuel (44% gas and 20.2 % oil). The fossil fuel was depleting fast and its price in the international market is also very vulnerable. Therefore, it was imperative to diversify the fuel mix in power generation. The Energy Security Action Plan (ESAP) has envisaged increasing the share of nuclear power from 1 percent to 4.2 percent by 2030.

A balance fuel mix strategy was pursued to meet the growing demand of power by exploitation of indigenous resources i.e. hydro, coal, natural gas and nuclear fuel. The sources said that the nuclear fuel requirements would increase manifold, which necessitates enhancement in its production through development of appropriate mining and processing techniques. The sponsors have, therefore, proposed to implement the mining project to cater its sustained supply for the nuclear power generation.

In compliance of the decision of the CDWP, the sponsors have submitted an comprehensive report on the effect of uranium extraction on the inhabitants of the area especially in D.G. Khan. The conclusion of the report are: "By design ISL Uranium Mining method is economical, safe and environment friendly because workers are not exposed to uranium ore etc. Personal as well as environmental monitoring is being carried out regularly and result obtained shows that u-content is either not detected or remains much below standard permissible limits."

According to the summary of the project obtained by Daily Times revealed the sponsor after extensive geo-scientific investigation have confirmed uranium reserves of 578 tons as reasonable Assured Reserves (RAR) and 2000 tons as Reasonable Assured Potential (RAP) category. The sponsors have estimated that the cost of uranium production would be reduced from $198 per kg to $92 per kg. The vehicles have been reduced from 26 to 22 and manpower accordingly.

For socio-economic uplift of the area, PAEC would not only provide job opportunities to local population but also creates sufficient health and educational facilities for the employees as well as local population. An amount of Rs 27.775 million has been earmarked in PC-I of Shanawa, ISL Mining Project for construction of school and hospital whose status would be up graded in due course of time.

The project would be completely funded through Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) and the government allocated Rs 500 in the current fiscal year. The Project would be completed in five years duration.
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