Rawatbhata (Raj), Jul 18: Scientists have found massive uranium deposits at the mines in Tummalapalle in Andhra Pradesh, a site that has the potential to emerge as the largest reserve of the key nuclear fuel in the world.
"At today''s estimates, the uranium reserves are to the tune of 49,000 tonnes. We expect it to be three-fold of that," Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Srikumar Banerjee told reporters here.
Earlier, the uranium reserves were estimated at around 15,000 tonnes before further exploration by the Atomic Minerals Directorate (AMD), a Department of Atomic Energy entity.
If the identified deposits are in the excess of 1.5 lakh tonnes, the Tummalapalle mine could rank as the largest uranium reserve in the world.
"We expect the reserves to be much more and the site has the potential to become the world''s largest uranium reserve," Banerjee said.
This discovery comes as a shot in the arm for the DAE which had estimated the uranium reserves in the country to be in the range of 1.7 lakh tonnes.
AMD scientists expect uranium deposits to occur over the entire length of the 160-km Tummalapalle belt with a depth consistency of 400 metres.
The Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) has begun mine opening operations for the uranium in 2007 and by this year end a mill to process the ore is expected to start functioning.
The UCIL has uranium mines and a mill to process the ore in Jharkhand and has identified deposits in Meghalaya and Karnataka.
The uranium ore at Tummalapalle, though large, is not of a very rich variety.
The AMD has also identified about 4,000 tonnes of uranium deposits at Gogi in Gulbarga district of Karnataka, which is a very rich ore.