China keen on accessing more Australian uranium

Melbourne: With China and India scrambling for scarce resources, even as they seek to expand their energy programmes, Australia is all set to expand supplies of uranium to the communist country even as it politely declines similar access to India. According to Australian resource minister Martin Ferguson, China has expressed a keen desire to purchase more Australian uranium as it prepares to expand its nuclear energy programme.

Ferguson informed the Australian media that local Chinese companies had expressed the desire for more Australian uranium to him in the course of his ministerial visit to Beijing.

"The expansion of the nuclear industry here in China opens up new resource opportunities for Australia from the point of view of uranium mining," he said.

"We should be mining more than we are at the moment. There has been considerable exploration across Australia in terms of the uranium industry in recent years and it will expand ... at a time at which we expect an increased demand for uranium internationally," he said.

For the record, Ferguson said uranium could not be used by China to build weapons as it was sold only for "civil industry purposes" and could not be stockpiled.

Interestingly, Ferguson acknowledged Chinese companies had holdings in uranium companies in Australia. "They're not actively mining at the moment but there's nothing to prevent that company moving forward" for mining.

The first shipment from Australia has already been shipped to China last November, but Ferguson said his discussions with local Chinese companies shows they would be seeking much more.