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India on IAEA radar for manpower

Jadugoda, March 20: In a bid to cope with probable paucity of trained manpower in the uranium mining sector, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has decided to approach India and China to help the agency establish international training centres to groom manpower in some of the countries in Asia and Latin America.

The chief of the nuclear fuel cycle and material section of IAEA, Chaitanmoy Ganguly, made a startling revelation that the uranium mining industry could soon face a severe shortage of technical manpower required to carry out mining and other related operations in that sector across the globe.

Addressing the gathering at the inaugural function of the five-day 'International conference on aerial and ground geophysical techniques for uranium exploration and advanced mining and milling methods and equipment' here, Ganguly said the manpower in the uranium mining industry is ageing.

'The ageing manpower in the uranium mining industry across the world is a huge problem. We could face a situation where there shall be paucity of mining engineers and geologists to undertake exploration and mining. To cope up with this unique situation, IAEA is planning to establish international training centres at some Asian and Latin American countries,' the senior IAEA functionary informed the gathering.

The IAEA has decided to approach India and China to assist the agency in opening the institutes that would help groom manpower for uranium mining. 'We are going to approach both these countries on this issue shortly,' said Ganguly adding that first such institute has already taken shape in Czech Republic.

Unlike other mining sectors, the manpower engaged in uranium mining sector has to deal with factors like radioactivity while undertaking mining. 'Unlike coal or iron ore mines, the uranium mines are extremely deep. Thus, one has to be properly trained for mining. Unless we have trained manpower, it would become difficult to carry out uranium mining operations,' he stated.

In India, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) has a training school that imparts training to candidates for uranium mining. 'The details of the international training institute would be worked out after we get to know the response from the Indian government. But such institutes are imperative for better future of the uranium mining industry across the world,' Ganguly stated.

Reacting to Ganguly's observation, the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, Anil Kakodkar, said that if IAEA desires, the country can join hands on this issue. 'There is a pool of experts to look after uranium mining in India. But there is a global consensus on need to building up an younger generation for the uranium mining industry,' Kakodkar added.

Predicting that India and China are the two emerging markets in the world for nuclear power, Ganguly said there is a need to enhance the uranium production in the world.

'The present annual uranium production is about 40,000 tonnes but the requirement is about 70,000 tonnes a year. So, countries have to gear up for increasing the production by undertaking exploration in new sites. The geophysical tools now available can help in detecting uranium deposits,' Ganguly added.

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