Protests force China to dump plan to build $6 billion uranium plant

China has cancelled plans to build a huge uranium processing facility in Guangdong province in southern China following protests by local residents who took to the street.

State-run China National Nuclear Corporation and China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corp (CGNPC) had planned to build the 37 billion yuan ($6 billion) project.

The move to build the huge nuclear processing facility has also sparked unease in neighbouring Hong Kong and Macau, who are reported to have raised the issue with local authorities in Guangdong, the South China Morning Post reported.

The uranium processing complex was to have been built on a 230-hectare area in the Pearl River delta industrial heartland, has been cancelled due to safety concerns of the public.

"To respect people's desire, the Heshan government will not propose the CNNC project", the Heshan city government's web site said in a one-line statement.

Guangdong is one of China's largest nuclear power bases, with five nuclear reactors already running and a dozen more being built, mostly using new technology from companies like French Areva and Westinghouse, a unit of Japan's Toshiba Corp.

The proposed project was designed to produce 1,000 tonnes of uranium fuel annually by 2020, which is needed to meet the needs of China's expanding nuclear power capacity, likely to reach 60-70 gigawatts by 2020 from the current 12.6 GW.

China currently produces 800 tonnes of uranium fuel at its plants in southwestern Sichuan province and north China's Inner Mongolia.

China imports uranium both from domestic mines and imports from Kazakhstan, Canada and Australia.