Brazil to restart uranium mining after five-year hiatus

Brazil will recommence domestic uranium mining later this year after nuclear regulator Cnen issued a licence to the country’s only uranium mine, located in the Northeastern state of Bahia.

The mine in the city of Caetite has not been in operation since 2014, when one cache of uranium was depleted by state-owned nuclear firm INB. At the time, the company was not licenced to mine another dig nearby.

However, a licence for the Caetite mine was issued in April this year according to a Cnen spokesperson. This was confirmed by Brazil’s Mines and Energy Minister Bento Albuquerque in a newspaper interview published yesterday.

Under the constitution, uranium exploration can only be carried out by INB, although Albuquerque discussed the possibility of allowing allow exploration partnerships with private investors in the future.

A host of countries, including China, the US, France, Japan and Russia, have already expressed interest in uranium mining in Brazil, which boasts the seventh largest uranium reserves in the world. Only a third of the country has been explored, reported Estado de S. Paulo newspaper.

Albuquerque told Estado that he wanted to break the government’s monopoly in uranium exploration and in running nuclear power plants, but he said this would require a constitutional change to be voted on in Congress.