French nuclear giant Areva has discovered 12,300 tonnes of uranium in central Jordan, state-run media said on Tuesday, as the parched kingdom tries to develop nuclear energy to meet its growing needs. "Reserves of 12,300 tonnes of uranium have been in found in central Jordan," the Petra news agency quoted the French company as saying in a statement published Tuesday.
The Jordan French Uranium Mining Company, a joint venture between Areva and Jordan Energy Resources Inc., "is confident that it will find a strategic reserve of more than 20,000 tonnes of uranium by the end this year," it said. "The reserve is essential for boosting Jordan's nuclear fuel resources in the future," it added.
Jordan, which buys 95 percent of its energy, says its 1.2 billion tonnes of phosphate reserves are estimated to contain 130,000 tonnes of uranium. It has said it would this month announce the firm it has chosen to build the kingdom's first nuclear plant.
A consortium by Areva and Japan's Mitsubishi, Russia's Atomstroyexport and Atomic Energy of Canada were competing to build the plant. The country's ambitious nuclear programme seeks to meet growing needs for power as well as water for its population of 6.3 million.
With desert covering 92 percent of its territory, Jordan, one of the world's 10 driest countries, wants to use atomic energy to fire desalination plants in a bid to overcome its dire water shortages.