China promotes global cooperation on sustainable uranium resource devt with inaugural industrial forum
Published: Oct 28, 2023 09:54 PM
The 1st International Forum on Natural Uranium Industry is held in Beijing on October 28, 2023. Photo: Hu Yuwei/GT

The 1st International Forum on Natural Uranium Industry is held in Beijing on October 28, 2023. Photo: Hu Yuwei/GT

International experts called for strengthening international exchange and cooperation, as well as increasing efforts and investment in uranium resource development, to address the challenges of climate change and energy security at the 1st International Forum on Natural Uranium Industry held in Beijing on October 28.

The forum brought together government officials and experts from countries such as Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, Malawi, Canada, as well as representatives from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA), and the Chinese nuclear industry to share development and technological experiences from various countries.

"Energy resource security is a comprehensive and strategic issue that affects the economic and social development of a country. It is crucial for national prosperity, improvement of people's lives, and long-term social stability. Uranium ore, as an important strategic resource and energy mineral, is the material foundation for the development of the nuclear industry," said Tang Zhengguo, an expert from the Geological Exploration Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources.

He called for continued efforts and investment in uranium resource development, improved exploration efficiency and quality, strengthened environmental protection, and enhanced international cooperation.

China has added one-third of its total known uranium resources during extensive survey and exploration work during the past 10 years, while 70 percent of the newly discovered resources are fine, extractable resources, according to an industry report published in July by the China Nuclear Geology, a subsidiary of Chinese nuclear giant China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC).

The success in surveying and exploration, the frontend of nuclear fuel cycle, has guaranteed the stable and highly effective supply of natural uranium, industry experts said.

According to the latest assessment of China's uranium resource potential, the country has over 2.8 million tons of natural uranium resources, indicating the country's tremendous potential in the capacity of domestic supply to ensure security over the fuel as the world faces complex situation.

Hua Zhong, deputy director of the Department of Foreign Capital and Overseas Investment of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), pointed out that the world's uranium resources, production capacity distribution, and demand can be further balanced through cross-border cooperation.

In recent years, Chinese natural uranium enterprises have joined other countries to successfully implement a number of production capacity cooperation projects in Africa, Central Asia, and other countries and regions. Hua vowed that in the future, the Department of Foreign Capital and Overseas Investment of the NDRC will continue to support and encourage Chinese enterprises to carry out scientific and technical exchanges with outside enterprises from various countries, and deliver more benefit to humanity from usage of uranium resources.

CAEA Secretary General Deng Ge stated that China is an active participant and firm actor in addressing global climate change. The Chinese government regards nuclear energy as an important pillar for building a clean and low-carbon energy system.

Deng said that in the future, China would expand domestic exploration investment and build large-scale uranium mining bases, and to strengthen independent innovation and core technology. He also called for a better control of environmental risks, and to carry out in-depth international exchanges to promote green channel for the natural uranium industry.

Shen Yanfeng, deputy general manager of CNNC, stressed at the forum that CNNC is one of the few companies in the world that possesses a complete nuclear industry system. It is also the first nuclear industry enterprise to enter the Fortune Global 500. CNNC is willing to share its industrial development experience with global counterparts and jointly promote the sustainable development of the natural uranium industry.

Shen advocated adhering to innovation-driven development and working with global partners to discover more uranium mines or make more resources economically recoverable.

Deputy Director General of IAEA Liu Hua, addressing the forum virtually, noted that this forum is a good platform for global uranium industry participants to engage in exchanges and cooperation, and the forum demonstrates the responsibility and commitment of a major nuclear power.

"Today, as carbon peaking and carbon neutrality have become widely recognized, countries are working together to promote the rapid development of global nuclear energy and jointly address the challenges of climate change. The global economic recovery and energy security have placed higher demands on the sustainable development of nuclear energy. Establishing a global uranium resource partnership is crucial to ensuring the security, stability, and reliable supply of uranium resources needed for the development of nuclear energy worldwide, which is particularly important for the healthy development of nuclear energy," Liu said.