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Varun Energy acquires Madagascar uranium mines

Surajeet Das Gupta  |  New Delhi 

Varun Energy Corporation, a group company of steel exporter Limited, has acquired uranium mines in Madagascar, an island nation in the Indian Ocean.

Varun Energy is one of the first private Indian to acquire rights directly in this business.

Madagascar has high concentration of uranium, besides thorium and gold. The group acquired 1,111 blocks covering 6,900 sq km with estimated reserves of 1,700,000 tonne of uranium, 4,350,000 tonne of thorium and traces of gold for exploration, exploitation and output sale. Varun is present in Madagascar as Varun International SARL and Madagascar Energy Corporation with 67 per cent stake in both Kiran Mehta, CMD, Varun Group, declined comment.

Varun Industries, with a turnover of Rs 1,400 crore, through its subsidiaries and associate has diverse interests globally in areas including gems and jewellery, oil and natural gas, mining and energy. The company was listed in 2007. It is also into retailing of stainless steel products under the brand name Varun.

The group’s foray into uranium offers tremendous growth potential, as current demand for the heavy metal as a commercially viable alternative fuel for generation of nuclear energy far outstrips supply.

According to a World Nuclear Association report, India has an ambitious nuclear power programme and expects to have 20,000 MWe nuclear energy capacities on line by 2020 and 63,000 MWe by 2032. It aims to supply 25 per cent of electricity from nuclear power by 2050.

Reliance Industries is into uranium mining, but indirectly, with 49 per cent stake in Uranium Exploration Australia, which has exploration licences in some parts of the continent. Jindal Power and Steel is another company that has uranium assets in Mongolia, bought from a Canadian company.

First Published: Mon, December 14 2009. 00:06 IST