May 7, 2010 / 1:31 PM / 9 years ago

Nuclear giant Areva eyes Tanzanian uranium

DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - French energy group Areva is interested in developing Tanzania’s uranium deposits, a senior executive told Reuters.

Tanzania has at least 54 million pounds of uranium oxide deposits and expects to start mining some of it by 2011.

“We were very encouraged by the closing remarks by the minister from Tanzania articulating his country’s desire to go the nuclear route, so we will most certainly be following up on those discussions,” said Judy Nwokedi, a senior Areva vice president, at the World Economic Forum on Africa held in Tanzania.

“He concluded his panel presentation by saying that Tanzania had deposits of uranium, had intentions of mining and mining with the view to considering a nuclear option.”

Energy and Minerals Minister William Ngeleja said last year two firms — Mantra Tanzania Limited, a unit of Australia’s Mantra Resources, and Uranex Tanzania Limited, a subsidiary of Australia’s Uranex — hoped to start producing in two years.

Tanzania has passed a new mining law which increases royalties paid on minerals and requires a government shareholding in any future mining projects.

Nwokedi also said Areva hoped it would be picked to construct a new nuclear power plant in South Africa. The timing of that will be indicated in the Integrated Resource Plan, a defining document to be released by the end of June.

“That will be the firmest indication of when the next nuclear power plant will come on stream in South Africa and we are anticipating we will be the preferred provider and supplier of that power plant with our extensive experience, expertise and the value proposition we will make to South Africa,” she said.

The nuclear giant, which acquired the U.S.-based solar thermal player Ausra this year, said the new unit was eyeing Africa for concentrated solar power plants but that a combination of different technologies was important.

“Our newly-acquired concentrated solar business unit is absolutely looking at Africa,” Nwokedi said.

“Nuclear is an absolute for base load and you can complement that with a peak solution which is either concentrated solar, wind or biomass. Obviously Africa has all the necessary ingredients to go the concentrated solar power route,” she said.

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