Friday, 22 August 2008

Boost to India's nuclear energy programme: New uranium-thorium reserves found in Chittoor, Warangal

August 22, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Aug 21: Andhra Pradesh is now emerging as uranium-thorium hub of India with new reserves of these atomic minerals being unearthed in Chittoor and Warangal districts.
Uranium has already been found in Kadapa and Nalgonda districts while thorium reserves are noticed in Visakhapatnam, Prakasam and Nalgonda districts.
The latest finding of uranium-thorium in Manupatulagadda and Mallampalli areas of Warangal district and Allapakonta and Vembakam in Chittoor district makes Andhra Pradesh one of the important States, which will catapult India to nuclear energy age.
Researchers at the city-based Atomic Minerals Directorate have also noticed rare earth elements like Niobium along with iron, uranium and thorium in the middle Proterozoic sediments of Pakhal basin in Warangal district. The mineralisation occurs predominantly in brecciated quartzite of Mallampalli Group of Pakhal Supergroup.
"The Uranium-thorium-rare earth elements mineralisation in Pakhal Super Group has all features of the Iron breccia type mineralisation quite akin to Bayan Obo (niobium rare earth element) deposit of China. The brecciated Bayaram quartzites of Pakhal basin are high in iron content," says AMD explorers in their research study.
An analysis of the Pakhal quartzite shows high iron content (22 per cent ferrous oxide) with good concentration of Titanium (3.34 per cent titanium oxide) and Phosphorous (2.69 per cent in the form of Phosphorus pentaoxide). It also revealed uranium concentration of 0.022 per cent triuranium octaoxide and 0.31 per cent thorium dioxide.
AMD's team comprising UP Sharma, K Umamaheswara and Himadri Basu have presented the first account of uranium occurrence in conglomerate at the base of Satyavedu Formation of Upper Gondwana sediments of Palar Basin, near Allapakonta and Vembakam in Chittoor district.
Grab samples have analysed 38 ppm to 218 ppm equivalent triuranium octaoxide, 32 ppm to 232 ppm triuranium octaoxide with negligible thorium. Radioactivity in conglomerate is associated with chlorite, zircon and ferruginous material, they noted.

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