Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh will soon join the uranium-mining map, as operations at
Tummalapalle plant, located on the world’s largest uranium reserves, are all set to start
in the next two months.
According to Mr NM Bahl, head of the Hyderabad office of the Uranium Corporation of India
Limited, work at Tummalapalle uranium mining plant in Kadapa district has been going on
at a brisk pace. “We are planning to start mining operations by March-end or early April.
Initially the plant will process about 3000 tonnes of uranium ore. As the plant expands
operation, another 1500 tonnes capacity will be added,” he said.
Andhra Pradesh is richly endowed with uranium reserves with about 1.5 lakh tonnes at
Tummapalle village alone. Apart from Tummalapalle, uranium resources have been identified
at Lambapur-Peddagattu in Nalgonda district. The UCIL has proposed a mining plant at
Lambapur-Peddagattu but the project is embroiled in controversy with strong opposition
from environment groups. When both the mines are in full operation, Andhra Pradesh will
meet about 25 per cent of the nuclear energy needs of the country.
Tummalapalle is the major uranium mine in the country after Jaduguda in Jharkhand. With
uranium reserves fast depleting at Jaduguda, the Department of Atomic Energy has been
concentrating on Andhra Pradesh for uranium ore. According to officials, the mine at
Tummalapalle is ready for operation while the work on the processing plant will be over
in the next few weeks. Once the processing plant is ready, Tummalapalle will formally go
on stream, making it the only uranium processing plant in south India.
India plans to generate 20,000 MWe of nuclear energy in the next eight years to meet the
ever-growing demand for electricity.
The plant at Tummalapalle is specially designed unlike the Jaduguda plant as the
conventional processing of leaching the ore with sulphuric acid does not work well with
uranium ore present in Kadapa district. The ore at Tummalapalle is low grade and to tap
it to the fullest, extensive research has been carried out at the Bhabha Atomic Research
Centre, the Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research and the Uranium
Corporation of India Limited.
Asked if the mining operation could cause any health hazard to people in the vicinity, Mr
Bahl said there is no cause to fear. “Our operations at Jaduguda have been safe and there
is no cause to worry at Tummalapalle. The mine is absolutely safe from the point of view
of health,” he added.
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