A joint venture between Jordan Energy Resources Incorporated and French nuclear giant Areva said on Tuesday it has discovered more than 20,000 tonnes of uranium in the Middle East kingdom.
The Jordanian French Uranium Mining Company said 12,300 tonnes of uranium had been found in central Jordan last year, and now “the overall uranium potential on the licensed 70 square-kilometre (27 square miles) area exceeds 20,000.”
“These potential resources are considered strategic for Jordan since they should enhance its future nuclear fuel supply security,” JFUMC said in a statement.
The joint venture said “technical and economic studies will be conducted in 2012 to assess the feasibility of a uranium extraction programme… taking into account the current and future uranium market outlook.”
It would seek to identify “the best scenarios for the future mining activities in central Jordan,” taking into consideration the country’s economic situation and plans to build “a strategic stock for its independence along with the development of a nuclear programme”.
Jordan, which imports 95 percent of its energy needs, is currently struggling to find alternatives to unstable Egyptian gas supplies, which normally cover 80 percent of the kingdom’s power production.
Since 2011, the pipeline supplying gas from Egypt to both Israel and Jordan has been attacked 14 times.
With desert covering 92 percent of its territory, Jordan is one of the world’s 10 driest countries and wants to use atomic energy to fire desalination plants to overcome its dire water shortage.
A consortium formed by Areva and Japan’s Mitsubishi is competing with Russia’s Atomstroyexport to build Jordan’s first nuclear plant.