Monday, 5 March 2012

World's biggest uranium mines at Tummalapalle: Andhra Pradesh joins the uranium mining map

Syed Akbar
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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