Australia to sell uranium to China

Australia to sell uranium to China

Australia will soon be able to export uranium to China, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has said.

The two countries signed an agreement earlier this year, which means the exports can begin in 30 days, he said.

Australia has 40% of the world’s recoverable uranium, while China needs a huge amount of energy for its large population and rising economy.

Beijing is keen to increase its use of nuclear power, to cut down its dependence on fossil fuels.

Two bilateral nuclear treaties – the Australia-China Nuclear Transfer Agreement and the Nuclear Co-operation Agreement – were signed in April during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to Canberra.

The two countries had previously failed to reach a deal amid concerns China would use the uranium in its nuclear weapons programme.

But these agreements are designed to ensure that any uranium exported to China will just be used for peaceful purposes.

Australia already exports uranium to more than 30 countries, but only does so under strict conditions.

India has also tried to buy Australian uranium, but unlike China it has yet to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation and has so far failed to win approval for the purchase.

Huge demand

China is desperate for energy to fuel its booming economy.

The old coal mines that the country relies on cannot keep up with demand and there is not enough oil to go around.

With power shortages and blackouts in big cities common, the government is looking for new sources of energy and nuclear is top of the list.

Beijing wants to build 40 to 50 nuclear reactors over the next 20 years and a steady supply of uranium is vital.

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