Indian nuclear power plants were operating below 50 per cent for more than a year due to shortage of uranium fuel and "with the doubling of production in the Turamdih mill in Jharkhand, it is now possible to operate nine indigenous 220 MW plants at 70 per cent," Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL), Chairman and Managing Director, S K Jain said.
The Turamdih mill which began operations last year to augment indigenous uranium production had faced teething problems ,"but now the mill has gradually doubled its production and we will be able to meet the demands of all the 15 Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors soon," Jain told reporters.
The power level of Tarapur Atomic Power Stations Units 4 and 5, Narora Atomic Power station unit 1, one unit of Kakrapar Atomic Power Station, two units of Madras Atomic Power station and three units of Kaiga Atomic Power Plants were raised to 70 per cent, he said.
"With this, in this financial year, we should be able to generate 50 per cent additional nuclear power (22000 million units cumulative)," he said.
Last week, NPCIL re-started Rajasthan Atomic power unit 2 with the imported fuel and which is currently running at nearly 80 per cent, he said.
Jain said that simultaneously, the Uranium corporation of India is expanding uranium mill capacity at Jaduguda and Turamdih mills by adding additional streams and is in advanced stage of construction, with the commissioning expected by the end of next year.
"This will further boost uranium supply to augment power level of our indigenous plants," he said.
Jain said construction work at the Tamarapalli uranium mine in Kadappa district in Andhra Pradesh is in advanced stages and the 'ore body' has already been reached.
"Ore production is expected to start in near future as the procurement process for acquiring equipment is in advanced stage," he said.
As per the current progress, it is expected that the mine will start producing yellow cake by 2012-13, he added.
Regarding the four 700 MW PHWRs which the NPCIL was to begin in 11th five year Plan, Jain said government has accorded approval for advanced procurement and "we are also processing full financial clearance for nearly Rs 3000 crore for four reactors, and which is expected very soon."
Process for procuring long-dealing items like steam generators, calendria are progressing and is expected to be completed in two to three months.
"Depending on the full project clearance, we are planning ground break of Kakrapar units 3 and 4 by December this year and Rajasthan units 7 and 8 by May 2010," he said.