August 29, 2008

Jordan and French Company Ink MoU on Uranium Mining

Jordan and French company ink MoU on uranium mining

AMMAN, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- Jordan signed Wednesday a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with French company Areva on uranium mining, local daily The Jordan Times reported Thursday.

Khalid Touqan, head of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission, was quoted as saying that the MoU, signed during Jordanian King Abdullah II's visit to France, is "declaration of principles" that set the guidelines for a comprehensive agreement on mining in central Jordan.

He expected the formal uranium deal to be finalized in September, stressing that the agreement with France is not confined to mining but tackles all aspects of cooperation in the field of peaceful nuclear energy.

According to Touqan, Areva will work to calculate the exact quantities of uranium in the kingdom, which he said are available at a commercial level.

Following the feasibility study, works will begin in building a mine and a special plant to extract the yellow cake, with actual production supposed to start in 2012, he added.

In the king's stay in France, the two sides also signed a protocol to an agreement on peaceful use of nuclear energy, which would enhance and institutionalize cooperation in the nuclear field between Jordan and France.

Unlike its oil-rich neighbors, Jordan lacks energy resources. It depends on imports 95 percent of its energy consumption, which annually costs nearly a quarter of its revenue, said official data.

In January 2007, King Abdullah announced a civil nuclear energy program, under which a nuclear plant will be set up by 2015 and nuclear power is expected to make up 30 percent of its energy production by 2030.

It is estimated that Jordan can extract 80,000 tons of uranium from its uranic ores and the country's phosphate reserves also contains some 100,000 tons of uranium, according to the official data.

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