SA Mines and Energy Journal : April - May 2013
For a country that has experienced annual GDP growth of between seven and nine percent per annum, India is a nation that requires a lot of energy. As a part of its energy portfolio, the country has chosen to increase its share of nuclear power generation to 25 percent of total electricity production by 2050. Currently, India has seven nuclear reactors under construction and a further 39 proposed for future developments. These reactors require a stable, assured supply of fuel. Considering Australia holds 33 percent of global uranium resources, with 81 percent of these located in South Australia, this State is well poised to take advantage of the future need for uranium in India. Exporting uranium to India would not be possible without two key policy decisions made in the past five years. Due to India possessing nuclear weaponry outside of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) framework, it could not import nuclear technology or fuel from states that were signatories to the NPT. In 2008, the country was granted an exemption from the Nuclear Suppliers Group rules, allowing signatories to the NPT and a part of the Nuclear Supplier Group to trade in nuclear technology and fuel with India and thus unlocking the ability for Australia to trade its uranium. The second policy shift came when the Australian Labor Party at its 2011 national conference, voted to change its national platform to support exports of uranium to India. These two important policy decisions allowed the negotiating process to begin on a Bilateral Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement. Currently, Australia has entered into 22 agreements with various countries. To ensure that Australia's requirements under the NPT are met, the bilateral agreements include: IAEA safeguards coverage with an additional protocol; fallback safeguards in the event IAEA safeguards no longer apply; physical security requirements; and prior consent of the transfer of Australian uranium to a third party, enrichment beyond 20 percent Uranium-235, or reprocessing. It was only last month that the Australian Government signalled the beginning of negotiations with their Indian counterparts on the Bilateral Nuclear Cooperation Agreement; a full year and a half after the change in policy to allow uranium exports to India. The official statement from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is that there is no set timeframe for talks. Initial timeframes have been raised, with the first quarter 2015 a suggested estimated signing date. Past experience has shown that the average time between commencing negotiations and entering into force two to four years. At the end of last year, Canada and India signed their Bilateral Nuclear Cooperation Agreement into force after almost four years of negotiations. Discussions began on the Canadian-Indian agreement in January 2009, with in June 2010 signing and it was finally then entered into force on November 2012. The initial timeframes of two years suggested by the Australian Government are realistic at this point, however, based on previous experience in negotiating Bilateral Nuclear Cooperation Agreements by the Australian and foreign governments, it is highly likely this timeframe could be lengthened by up to two more years. South Australia is in a prime position to benefit from the export of uranium to India. Boasting world's best practice in uranium mining, the State provides India with a stable and safe region to import from. The State Government played a part in altering the ALP's policy on exporting uranium to India; now it's time to ensure the Federal Government progresses the negotiations in earnest. Enroute to India South Australia is in an excellent position to bene t from nuclear trade to India; it's up to the Federal Government to keep up the momentum, writes Dayne Eckermann. 20 FEATURE APRIL/MAY 2013 SA MINES & ENERGY JOURNAL SACOME staff enjoying a visit to Olympic Dam, the worlds largest uranium resource, earlier this year.
February - March 2013
June - July 2013