Rosatom is ready to invest $1 billion in uranium exploration in Namibia, the nuclear firm said Thursday, as it seeks to compete for projects with global miner Rio Tinto in the African country. "We're ready to start investing already this year," Rosatom head Sergei Kiriyenko said. He said the uranium could be used for the nuclear power plant Russia was building in Turkey. The comment came as Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba visited Moscow to meet President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
Russia and Turkey signed earlier this month a $20 billion project for Moscow to build and own a controlling stake in Turkey's first nuclear power plant. Medvedev discussed the possibility of investing in uranium explorations in Namibia last year when he visited the country on his trip to promote Moscow's interests in Africa, where it faces competition with China and the West for resources. Namibia, the world's fourth-largest uranium producer, is home to the Rossing mine operated by Rio Tinto, which together with Paladin Energy's Langer Heinrich mine accounts for about 10 percent of global output.
The two companies have expanded their operations in response to a growing global demand for low-carbon energy sources. Other firms have been joining the exploration drive, with several new mines due to come on stream in the next five years. Medvedev said Thursday that Russia was also ready to invest in the completion of two hydropower stations in Namibia, a fertilizer plant, railroad construction and copper exploration and processing.