Mining its own business: Jordan to build $140 million uranium plant
Jordan plans to build a JD100 million plant for uranium extraction, Samer Kahook, general manager of the state-owned Jordan Uranium Mining Company (JUMCO), said Wednesday as he announced that Jordan's central area is home to 36,389 metric tonnes of uranium oxide that can be easily mined.
The government is expected to start attracting strategic partners in the plant before the end of this year, Kahook, said in an interview Wednesday on the sidelines of a meeting to announce the results of a study on uranium reserves in Jordan.
"The government of Jordan will have a share in the plant that will be larger than the strategic partner’s stake," said Kahook during a press meeting to announce the results of a study into the country’s uranium deposits.
The plant, he said, will have a capacity of 300-400 metric tonnes per year and can be expanded to 1,500 metric tonnes per year at a later stage, he said.
"The design and the engineering works on the plant are expected to start in the next couple of years and in four to five years from now the plant is expected to go operational gradually," said Kahook, who is also a commissioner at the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission.
"The uranium extracted through the plant will be either sold on the international market or enriched abroad and brought back to Jordan to be used in the generation of the planned nuclear reactor in the Kingdom," he added.
"When used to fuel a nuclear plant, a quantity of about 400 tonnes of uranium can save about $2 billion currently spent to buy diesel and heavy fuel for power generation," he said, stressing that the mining and extraction of uranium is a separate project from the nuclear reactor project.
The Central Jordan Area, located about 80km south of Amman, is home to 36,389 metric tonnes of uranium oxide that is easily mined and can be extracted cost-effectively, Kahook said, citing the study, conducted by experts at JUMCO, in cooperation with an international team of world-renowned experts have shown.
Estimation of the uranium resources in the central region are expected to increase as more exploration is carried out by JUMCO in the 350sq.km area.
The uranium resources in the Central Jordan Area can be increased to 65,979 metric tonnes, if uranium prices go up, allowing mining of uranium of lesser concentrations, he said.
The conducting of the study in partnership with international experts played a key role in enhancing the capabilities of Jordanian experts and engineers in this field, said Kahook, adding that the exploration process will continue in different parts of the country.