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India Seeks to Expand Nuclear Power Capabilities

With India's demand for electricity expected to more than double by the year 2015, the country is attempting to increase its reliance on nuclear energy. NewsHour special correspondent Simon Marks reports from India on the country's growing nuclear industry.

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  • SIMON MARKS, NewsHour Special Correspondent:

    It doesn't take long to journey to the heart of India's nuclear industry. A 60-second elevator ride takes workers and visitors alike 600 feet below ground in Jaduguda, 900 miles southeast of Delhi.

    This is India's largest uranium mine, a strategic site that has never been filmed before by American television. It's been open for business since 1968 and is one of four sites producing a relatively small amount of uranium that for now exclusively powers India's nuclear industry.

    Uranium is not like coal or gold. The miners can't see it with the naked eye. Instead, radiation tests guide them to potentially rich seams of rock face. Every day, 2,500 tons of rocks are delivered into an enormous grinder, where they're pulverized, the start of a process that separates the uranium from the boulders in which it's encased.

    RAMENDRA GUPTA, Uranium Corporation of India, Ltd.: We have adopted the latest mining technology, and we are second to none in the world.


    Ramendra Gupta heads the Uranium Corporation of India, the government agency that oversees the mining operation. With 4,000 people on its payroll, it's one of the largest employers in this part of India, a rapidly developing country with a voracious appetite for energy and a nuclear industry that wants to supply more of it.


    If we want to sustain 8 percent growth, we must have enough power. And to have enough power, nuclear power is a good alternative, because, at present, we are not having enough fossil fuel in India. And most of the fossil fuel which is being imported, it is coming from areas which are politically not really stable.