From Volume 37, Issue 47 of EIR Online, Published Dec. 3, 2010

Global Economic News

Russia Invites India for Joint Exploration of Uranium Mines

Nov. 22 (EIRNS)—Sergei Novikov, spokesman for Russia's nuclear energy agency Rosatom, said today, "We have offered the Indians participation in the uranium mining projects in the Russian Federation and third countries. The controlling stake in the joint projects must remain with Rosatom and the partners could get up to 49% share in the projects inside Russia."

India is already participating in the Elkon project in Yakutia, in Russia's Far East. A Rosatom spokesman said that in that project, the Indian stake would be less than 49%, as there were already some other foreign stakeholders.

During Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's visit to India in March, Rosatom head Sergei Kiriyenko had offered the state-owned Uranium Corporation of India Ltd. (UCIL) a stake in the Elkon project and setting up nuclear fuel joint ventures in Russia and India. Work to design and construct a uranium production and conversion plant started in Yakutia, in 2009. The plant will also produce gold and silver; molybdenum has also been discovered at the Elkon deposit.

Chinese Breakthroughs in High-Speed Rail, Nuclear

Nov. 23 (EIRNS)—Contrary to accusations that China has only copied other nations' high-speed railway technology, China is leading innovation in actual railway construction, Tian Lipu, director of State Intellectual Property Office of China, said in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, on Nov. 22. China, he pointed out, is the only nation now building high-speed railways in the mountains. Construction will soon begin on the Chengdu-Guizhou high-speed railway, the world's first mountain high-speed railway, and this means that high-speed rail technology with Chinese characteristics has come of age, Tian said. The line will run through the rugged terrain of Southeast China. Beijing is planning to make high-speed rail lines a main channel to connect China's interior—60% of its land area, and mostly moutainous—with the East Coast.

Other nations develop technology based on existing technologies, Tian said. "The developed countries can do like this, why not China? We bought technology from Germany, Japan, and France, and we paid patent fees in accordance with international rules. This is legal. How is it plagiarism to assimilate others' skills and create new things when adapting them to our own situation?"

China's 13,000-km high-speed rail network is already the largest in the world. In addition to covering rough terrain, it also features the longest and fastest tracks in the world. China has made other breakthroughs in rail technology, especially when it built the railway into Tibet, with unique geographic conditions, including permafrost and extreme altitude.

A report by the World Nuclear Association says that China is rapidly becoming self-sufficient in reactor design and construction, Indepthnews reported on Nov. 23. China has 13 operating reactors, and is building another 25, with at least 5 more construction sites to begin soon, making China by far the largest site of nuclear expansion in the world. The planned reactors include some of the world's most advanced, and China will achieve a tenfold increase in nuclear capacity to 80 GWe by 2020, 200 GWe by 2030, and 400 GWe by 2050. By comparison, the United States has 104 nuclear reactors, and 1 under construction.

Fresh Spurt in Nuclear Power Development in Asia

Nov. 23 (EIRNS)—Nuclear power is gaining increasing support in Indonesia, a nation of about 180 million people that needs a huge influx of power. Wawan Purwanto, of the National Nuclear Energy Agency of Indonesia, said the country's existing nuclear power plants have a capacity of 90 megawatts (3 research reactors), but the country has the resources to build more than 30 plants, the Antara news agency reported on Nov. 22. "Every province in Indonesia has potential to develop a nuclear reactor, because there are ample material stocks and appropriate geological support," said Purwanto. "Korea, only a third the size of Java Island, has 20 nuclear reactors, and China has 30 reactors," he said.

In India, construction has begun on the Kakrapar 3 and 4 atomic power plants, near Surat in the state of Gujarat. Both reactors have been designed by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL). They will be India's first pair of indigenously designed 700 MW pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWR).

Meanwhile, a research group in the United States pointed out that, after a 30-year hiatus, several utilities are planning to build nuclear capacity in the U.S. During the hiatus, the U.S. and Canada have fallen behind countries like China and Russia in building new nuclear reactors.

Japan To Provide Nuclear Support to Thailand

Nov. 24 (EIRNS)—Japan Atomic Power Co. has signed an agreement with the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand to provide support in building nuclear power plants. Thailand currently plans to construct its first nuclear plant, a 1-gigawatt facility, by 2020, and add four more by 2030.

Thailand has completed preliminary studies for building a nuclear plant, and Japan Atomic Power will cooperate on procedures involved in commissioning the project. This includes providing advice on compiling specifications for ordering components, on bidding procedures, and in training of engineers.

Japan Atomic Power cooperated in the Thai government's preliminary study and that led to the signing of the agreement. The Japanese company had previously been involved in similar work in Vietnam, which later signed contracts for two nuclear power reactors with the Japanese.

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