Will Australian Uranium Flow to India?


"Australia's keen to resume export negotiations with New Delhi."

Australia is keen to resume uranium-export negotiations with New Delhi, given the possibility of the Abbott government coming to power. The huge swing away from the ruling Labour Party has almost ensured this, as Australia battles the nation's second hung parliament in its Federal history.

Though both the major political parties said they would push for closer trade pacts with India, China and Japan, the coalition has clearly indicated that it would overturn Labour's ban on selling uranium to India, if used for energy purposes.

The Labour government has stoutly refused to sell uranium to India saying it isn't a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. However, even before the apparent hung-parliament scenario made waves over the weekend, the opposition party has vocally reinforced the need to renew trade ties with India.

Julie Bishop, deputy leader of the opposition Liberal Party, said recently the coalition was keen to reinstate the in-principle agreement to sell uranium to India. The accord would be a preliminary step toward exports from Australia, which holds 40% of the world's known uranium reserves and exports worth more than $1 billion a year—a huge injection into the domestic economy.

Many in New Delhi have welcomed the possibility, for the ban on uranium exports had become almost a 'negative symbol' of Australian attitudes toward India. Minister for power, Sushil Kumar Shinde had said that he initiated some discussions on sourcing uranium supplies. Hoping the Australian government would accommodate India's need for uranium, Shinde reportedly said, "The whole world is supporting us in our civil nuclear program. It is for them (Australia) to decide."

Australia is the third-largest uranium producer behind Kazakhstan and Canada. If the accord between the two countries does prove fruitful, several key mining giants stand to benefit.

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