Indian and Mongolian officials have expressed their willingness to cooperate in developing Mongolian uranium mining, and have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the peaceful use of radioactive minerals and nuclear energy.
|Singh and Tsakhia converse
The MoU was signed by the vice chairmen of the two countries' nuclear energy departments during a state visit by President Elbegdorj Tsakhia of Mongolia to India. Both President Tsakhia and prime minister Manmohan Singh of India mentioned the MoU in statements.
According to a statement issued by the Mongolian presidency, Indian officials "expressed willingness to cooperate in mining, especially in uranium sector." In return, Tsakhia promised to support Indian involvement in the minerals sector through government policy and "mutually beneficial long-term cooperation."
The Mongolian president said his country appreciated "India's notion to develop our cooperation in the uranium sector, as we are always open to such proposals." Earlier this year Mongolia signed a uranium production cooperation agreement with Russia, and followed up with a deal to develop the Dornod uranium deposit through a 50-50 joint venture with Russia's AtomRedMetZoloto (ARMZ), to the consternation of Canada-based Khan resources, which owns 58% of a mining lease and 100% of an exploration lease relating to the deposit. The move came after the Mongolian government suspended exploration licences and passed a new nuclear energy law to the surprise of the western companies that already have uranium interests in the country.
India, with a flourishing nuclear industry and ambitious new build plans, is hampered by its lack of indigenous uranium resources, but since its return to the international nuclear market place earlier this year has been working to secure uranium supplies from other countries. At the beginning of September, it was reported to have signed a nuclear cooperation agreement to trade uranium and build nuclear plants with Namibia, the world's fourth largest producer of uranium in 2008.