Uranium which is used as a key fuel in the nuclear weapons is eyed to get boosted by India under its weapon program. India is planning to increase its output by ten times by 2031-32 for achieving self-sufficiency.
The Department of Atomic Energy indicated that India is estimated to have 232,315 tons of uranium contained in deposits of 273,956 tons of tiiuranium octoxide. India knows the actual amount of uranium deposits in its crust, however, the quantity of uranium produced by India from indigenous sources at present is not known or secret. As it can be used for calculating the nuclear weapons’ quantity that the country develops.
The exporters of nuclear fuel have restricted the export of uranium, so Indian is not able to use imported uranium for the making of its nuclear weapons. And this makes the country completely depend on the indigenous production to fuel its nuclear weapons.
For power generation, India also uses part of domestic mining uranium. Of the nearly 7,000 MW of nuclear energy produced in India, 2400 MW has increased from domestic uranium.
So, as per the government, India is aiming to boost the production of uranium soon, “Uranium Corporation of India has made a detailed plan in line with DAE’s vision to achieve self-sufficiency in Uranium production achieving nearly ten-fold rise in next 15 years i.e., by 2031-32.”
DAE said, “UCIL has outlined a plan for greater expansion in which continuous supply from existing facilities, capacity expansion of some existing units and plans to create new production centers (mines and plants) in different parts of the country.”
Moreover, India is planning to move its power generation to thorium by 2050 due to blockade by the international community in the supply of uranium to the country and due to the relative abundance of thorium deposits in the country under the nuclear program ‘Phase 3’.
India has made a lot of investment in the development of nuclear reactors on the basis of thorium, out of which it has a volume of about 1 million tons which make it world leaders in the technology of Thorium.
Shifting to Thorium from power generation, India has a three-phase program which works as- firstly, the normal uranium will be used in pressurized heavy water reactors. Then in the second stage, the plutonium will be used in Fast Breeder reactor which under the process of making for 30 years and is likely to go live in January. The third stage involves making use of Uranium-233 to fuel Thorium + Uranium-233 based reactors which can provide energy independence to India for upcoming centuries.
Indian Rare Earth Limited, a PSU under DAE at Chawara, in Kerala; Manavalakurichi, Tamil Nadu and Orissa Sand Complex, Odisha are producing Thorium in India and till March in the year 2015, India produced 80 tons Thorium and 330 tons each in the latter two years. Thus, this data makes the total production of thorium ores on the rise in the three subsequent years.