China is diversifying its sources of uranium to meet the rising demand in developing the nuclear power industry.
"Exploration and exploitation of domestic uranium will be prioritized for the country's mid- and long-term development of nuclear power," said Lu Xiaoming, director of the Nuclear Fuel Division of the China Atomic Energy Authority, at the China Mining Conference and Expo in north China's port city of Tianjin Thursday.
"We should rely on our own resources to acquire uranium," said Lu.
"We will intensify our geological survey efforts to have a clear understanding of uranium resources, and bring technical innovation to the exploration and exploitation of uranium for greater efficiency."
China has accelerated the construction of nuclear power plants in recent years as the government seeks to readjust the country's energy mix to protect the environment for sustainable development.
When used in the civilian sector to fuel nuclear power plants, one kilogram of uranium-235 can theoretically produce as much energy as 3,000 tons of coal.
In a mid- and long-term development plan for nuclear power industry approved October 2007 by China's Cabinet, the State Council, the country aims to build a nuclear power capacity of 40,000 megawatts by 2020.
By the end of September, China had installed nuclear power capacity of 9,190 megawatts, with 27,730 megawatts under construction.
With the acceleration of China's nuclear power industry construction, the National Energy Administration (NEA) predicts that the 2020 goal might be achieved in 2015.
Further, nuclear power capacity will hopefully hit 70,000 to 80,000 megawatts by the year 2020.
Currently, the proportion of nuclear power in the country's total energy mix was a mere 1.04 percent at the end of 2009, figures from the China Electricity Council (CEC) show, far behind the world average of 17 percent.
China has vowed to lift the proportion to over 5 percent by the year 2020, said NEA head Zhang Guobao.
To bolster the development of China's nuclear power industry, it is necessary to look at overseas uranium resources.
China will invest in and deepen cooperation with countries in the field of uranium, said Lu.
Further, China attaches great importance to uranium imports for increasing supply, he added.
Chen Yuehui, deputy president of China Uranium Corp Ltd, said his company is spearheading the search for uranium in Australia, Canada and African countries.
CUCL is a subsidiary of China National Nuclear Corp, China's biggest operator of nuclear power plants.
"By the year 2015, we shall have completed construction of two overseas uranium mines. They will have an annual production capacity of up to 2,500 tons and contain uranium resources of 100,000 tons," Chen said.