Beijing, China — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 04 January 2011 – China National Nuclear Corporation “’ the nation’s largest builder of nuclear reactors “’ has started trial operations at its first overseas mine producing the nuclear fuel “’ the Azelik uranium mine in Niger.
The company produced the first barrel of uranium at the West African mine last week, it revealed in a statement on its website, without giving further details.
China’s uranium demand may rise to 20 000tpa by 2020, more than a third of the 50 572t mined globally last year, according to the World Nuclear Association. The nation may purchase about
5 000t this year, more than twice as much as it consumes, to build stockpiles for new reactors, according to Thomas Neff, a physicist and uranium-industry analyst at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
China National Nuclear and Shenzhen-based ZTE Energy Company had originally expected to start production at uranium mines in Niger in 2009, and expand the annual output to 700t by 2011 and 1 000t ultimately, said Chen Yuehui, deputy general manager of China National Nuclear’s overseas exploration unit.