An agreement on uranium exploration and mining signed by the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) and French nuclear company Areva has been welcomed by King Abdullah II of Jordan and French president Nicolas Sarkozy.
President Nicolas Sarkozy welcomes King Abdullah II to France
The memorandum of understanding, signed by the two companies during King Abdullah's state visit to France, provides for the establishment of a joint venture to explore for uranium in the Middle Eastern country. A mining convention is to be drawn up to cover the exploration and exploitation stages of the project. The two country's leaders voiced their approval in a joint declaration released at the end of the visit, as well as welcoming the memorandum of understanding between the two countries on the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
The Jordanian government has previously estimated its conventional uranium reserves at 140,000 tonnes, plus a further 59,000 tonnes in phosphate deposits. A study into the possible extraction of uranium as a by-product of phosphoric acid production was commissioned by the Jordan Phosphate Mines Company according to reports in July.
Jordan, an energy resource-poor country that currently imports about 95% of its needs, is working towards introducing nuclear power for both energy and water desalination with plans for its first nuclear plant to start up in 2015. Earlier this month it signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with China, adding to similar agreements with the USA, France and UK. Additionally, JAEC recently signed an agreement with Canadian reactor vendor AECL and SNC-Lavalin to look into the feasibility of setting up a nuclear power program based on the Canadian-designed Candu reactor. It is also reported to be discussing the possibility of buying a reactor from Areva.
Jordan joined the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), the US-led initiative to expand nuclear energy use worldwide while reducing the threat of nuclear weapons proliferation, in 2007.