India Uncovers One of World's Biggest Uranium Deposits

A uranium mine in southern India is home to 49,000 tonnes of ore, and reports suggest it could actually house three times that amount. According to India's Secretary of the Department of Atomic Energy, Srikumar Banerjee, that would make it the largest uranium mine in the world.

India currently has just under 5 gigawatts of installed nuclear power capacity, though it plans to increase that to 20 GW by 2020 and to 63 GW by 2050. The new uranium deposit could be an important piece in these expansion plans. Currently, India doesn't rank near the top of the list when it comes to uranium mining.

In 2010, more than 53,000 tonnes of uranium were mined around the world, with the bulk of that coming from Kazakhstan, Canada, and Australia. There is apparently enough proven uranium in the world to last the world's nuclear reactors at least a century.

Though it rarely gets the attention focused on other parts of the nuclear power industry, uranium mining does carry its own environmental and health risks. In the U.S., which in 2010 mined 1,660 tonnes of uranium, some controversy still swirls around the issue. In June, the Department of the Interior extended a moratorium on mining in a huge area surrounding the Grand Canyon. The region as a whole contains upwards of 150,000 tonnes of uranium.

(Image via Andrew Silver/USGS)

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