Aus uranium supply to India will be demand based: Ferguson

Melbourne: Australia`s uranium supply to India will be demand based once the approvals for the yellow cake exports to New Delhi are finalised, Energy Minister Martin Ferguson has said.

"It (uranium supply) will be demand based. The supply once approved for exports will be of a commercial nature between the Australian uranium and mining industry and potential customers in India," Ferguson told PTI.

Asked when the uranium exports will begin, Ferguson said "We don`t put a timeframe. This is about a negotiation of a product between Australia and India."

"The issue is to get it right to resource negotiations and to make sure that we take the respective community with it in terms of their confidence about the fact that the uranium will be used safely."

Australia`s uranium reserves are the world`s largest, with 23 per cent of the total.

Ferguson, a Labor party leader who had earlier advocated uranium sale to India, yesterday become the first politician to receive the Ashoka Medal, the first of its kind award instituted by Australia India Business Council – Victoria and Australia India Institute (AII), for his outstanding contribution made towards India Australia relations in the last twelve months.

He said that Australian uranium industry was growing and the amount to be sold to countries like India would be based on demand and between the buyers and sellers.

In December last year, Labor party, led by Julia Gillard, cleared the way for Australian uranium to be exported to India after a strong debate on the floor of the party`s 46th national conference.

Despite resistance from opponents, the landmark policy change was carried by a majority of delegates, paving the way for the first Australian country-to-country agreement to sell yellow cake to a nation outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Ferguson, a strong supporter of the uranium industry, had been lobbying within the government for Labor to re-instate the Howard policy of selling uranium to India.