MOSCOW, January 12 (Sputnik) — Mining giant Rio Tinto plans to start exporting uranium from Australia to India within the next two years, as soon as all needed measures are taken to restrict its use to power generation, its chief executive said.
"The memorandum of understanding for civil nuclear cooperation was signed last year but there is still work that needs to be done on certain safeguards about the end use of the uranium. It is an elaborate process and though both sides are committed, I think it will take another year or two before we start exporting uranium to India," Sam Walsh, group Chief Executive Officer, said as quoted by Hindu BusinessLine.
Walsh added that he discussed bidding for coal blocks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Currently, the company has a two way trade agreement with India worth of about $2 billion.
India has a nuclear arsenal and has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Australia has never shipped uranium to a non-signatory of the NPT.
Modi aims to raise the share of nuclear power in power generation from 3 percent, under a strategy to end power shortages and curb reliance on oil imports.
In September, Modi and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott signed a deal for Australia to export uranium to India. The move was set to show that India’s nuclear programme met international acceptance, according to Reuters.
India has nuclear agreements with 11 countries and imports uranium from Russia, France and Kazakhstan.