October 3, 2008

Jordan, Areva Ink Nuclear Deal

Jordan, Areva ink nuclear deal

AMMAN, Oct. 2 (Xinhua) -- Jordan has signed in French capital Paris an agreement with French energy giant Areva on uranium exploration and mining, official news agency Petra reported Thursday.

Under the agreement, which was signed on Wednesday, a joint venture will be set up to explore uranium in the kingdom. The to- be- built company is expected to have the exclusive right of exploring and mining uranium in the central of the kingdom.

The deal was signed between Minister of Finance Hamad Kasasbeh and Chairman of Jordan Atomic Energy Commission Khalid Touqan on behalf of Jordan, and Areva General Manager Ann la farjoun who represented the French side.

Kasasbeh thanked France for its continuous assistance to the kingdom, adding that the agreement signals the start of an ambitious project, which will provide an alternative source of energy for Jordan.

Jordan, had previously signed a memorandum of understanding ( MoU) with Areva on uranium mining in August when Jordanian King Abdullah II made a visit to France.

Touqan said after the MoU, which was inked following a feasibility study by Areva, 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.

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

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