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France's Areva secures uranium mining rights during PM visit

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2010-02-21

French nuclear giant Areva secured exclusive uranium mining rights in Jordan in exchange for developing the energy-poor country's nuclear facilities. French Premier François Fillon and his Jordanian counterpart attended the signing in Amman.

AFP - Energy-poor Jordan on Sunday signed an agreement with France's nuclear giant Areva giving it exclusive uranium mining rights, during a visit by French Prime Minister Francois Fillon.

Fillon and his Jordanian counterpart Samir Rifai attended the signing of the agreement which will grant Areva the exclusive right to extract and mine uranium in the central parts of Jordan.

Jordan, which is poor in energy and water resources, is seeking to develop nuclear energy to generate power and desalinate water.

Fillon said he spoke with Rifai, about prospects of building nuclear plants by French firms in the Gulf of Aqaba on the Red Sea.

"Our goal is to create a full partnership with Jordan on training and obtaining nuclear technology... or with any other country in the region that seeks civilian nuclear technology," he told reporters.

"We discussed offers to build nuclear plants in Aqaba, and we will work on providing the best offers."

Jordanian officials have said that Areva, which started mining in central Jordan in 2008, could extract around 130,000 tonnes of uranium from the kingdom's 1.2 billion tonnes of phosphate reserves and build a nuclear reactor.

The country, which imports around 95 percent of its energy needs, aims to bring its first nuclear plant on line by 2015. Officials have said they hope nuclear power will supply 30 percent of energy production by 2030.

It is the latest Sunni Arab country, including Egypt and pro-Western Gulf states, to announce plans for nuclear power programmes in the face of Shiite Iran's controversial atomic drive.

Fillon, who arrived late Saturday in Jordan at the head of a large delegation, also attended an economic forum and said that Paris wanted to forge an "ambitious global partnership" with Jordan and boost economic ties.

Date created : 2010-02-21

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