South Australia's Resources Minister Paul Holloway is confident that BHP Billiton's planned expansion of the big Olympic Dam copper-uranium-gold project will proceed and that new uranium projects in the state will begin making their mark.In his opening address to Paydirt's Uranium Conference Monday, Holloway said a comprehensive environmental impact statement is due to be made available to the public for two months from early May.

You may hear some doomsayers complain that the ongoing expansion of the mining sector in this state has somehow stalled. However, such talk denies the increase in operating mines to 11 from four since this government came into office, and the expectation that two more mines at least will go into production in the next 12 months, he said.Holloway said the PACE drilling initiative, where the state government provides funds to assist grass roots exploration programmes, has had an enormous impact and this year the Rann Labor Government will allocate an additional $A14.1 million ($US9.28 M) to assist exploration for new mines and energy projects.At the recent PDAC Convention forum in Toronto regarding the long-term growth prospects for the nuclear industry, it was predicted that the global industry of 436 nuclear reactors will rise to more than 606 reactors with the potential for even more rapid expansion. That is a 40% increase in the number of reactors in the space of two decades, with a consequent surge in the expected demand for uranium.

Much of that increased capacity comes from the search for alternatives in Asia and Europe to carbon-emitting power sources as countries strive to reduce their minimising carbon emissions.

It is estimated that the global nuclear industry today needs about 181 million pounds of uranium a year to supply reactor feed requirements. Primary production provides about two thirds of this annual requirement, while the remainder is drawn from secondary supply which is basically stockpiles of previously produced uranium, Holloway said.However, these secondary supplies are finite and more primary production will be needed as capacity begins to climb.Mitsubishi and Co of Japan has joined Uranium One on its Australian exploration portfolio, and a significant portion of Mitsui's $A104 M ($US68.45 M) commitment will go into finalising development of the Honeymoon uranium mine.Also advancing is Quasar Exploration-Alliance Resources Ltd's Beverly Four Mile development and the PeninNini Minerals Ltd (ASX: PNN) and SinoSteel joint venture is working towards development of the Crockers Well mine.In another paper presented at the conference, Alliance Resources (ASX: AGS) said it was confident it could raise the required capital for its 25% share of the $A90 M ($US59.23 M) cost of developing Beverley Four Mile, which is close to the Beverley in situ recovery uranium mine operated by Quasar's parent Heathgate Resources, a subsidiary of the giant American company General Atomics.