Brazilian Minister of Mines and Energy, Bento Albuquerque, said yesterday that the government will resume uranium exploration in the country by the end of the year, as a way to expand its nuclear program.
According to the minister, to the newspaper Estadão, the expectation is to start work at the Engenho mine, in Caetité, Bahia, by the end of this year, with exploration to be done solely by the state-owned Nuclear Industries of Brazil (INB).
For five years Brazil has not extracted uranium due to environmental issues.
However, although currently only state-owned INB can operate in the sector, Bento Albuquerque defended the establishment of partnerships with the private sector to exploit the potential of uranium in Brazilian territory, due to budget constraints to make investments.
“There are some alternatives that do not need to change the Constitution so that this mining activity can be done by INB and another privately owned company. As regards uranium, INB would be the majority. In the exploration, there is not only uranium, it can have another mineral and usually has ”, said the minister.
The South American country today has the seventh largest uranium geological reserve in the world, trailing Australia, Kazakhstan, Canada, Russia, South Africa and Nigeria.
Uranium is a raw material that can be used as fuel in nuclear power plants.
For a break in the state monopoly on uranium exploration and the possibility of private sector exploitation of nuclear power plants would need to approve a Proposed Amendment to the Constitution (PEC) in Congress, with the support of three-fifths of deputies and senators, in two rounds of voting, both in the House of Representatives and in the Senate.
“Security exists. We have been operating nuclear power plants for over 40 years. There is no problem with the private sector. What is the difference between the private sector and the state sector? None, provided that they are able to control and supervise. This discussion is a thing of the past, and if it goes to Congress today, there will be no such resistance. This is my personal opinion, even because of the contact I have with Congress and various parliamentarians, ”said the minister.
At this moment, Brazil has two nuclear power plants in operation, both in Angra dos Reis, Rio de Janeiro.
There is still a third, called “Angra 3”, with 67% of the works completed, but was halted in 2015, when investigations of Operation Lava Jato discovered a scheme of misappropriation of resources by construction companies, which now needs 16,000 million reais (3.6 billion euros) to be completed.
According to the Special Secretary of the Investment Partnership Program (PPI), Martha Seillier, quoted by Estadão, there is interest from foreign companies from countries like China, United States of America, France, Japan, South Korea and Russia to explore uranium in Brazil. .
. (tagsToTranslate) Resistance