Japan venture to explore for Australian uranium

TOKYO, May 26 (Reuters) - Japanese utility Kansai Electric Power Co 9503.T said on Monday its joint venture with two other Japanese utilities and a trading house would participate in a project to explore for uranium in South Australia.

The joint venture and Australia-based Quasar Resources Pty Ltd, under the U.S.-based General Atomics, will jointly explore two locations in Gawler Craton, South Australia, for four years, Kansai Electric said in a statement. Kansai Electric, Japan’s second-biggest utility, said it hopes the exploration will result in an economical and stable supply of uranium in the face of soaring global prices.

The joint venture, 50 percent owned by Kansai Electric, expects exploration to cost A$20 million ($19 million), with the venture taking a 20-25 percent stake in each location, Kansai Electric and its partners said.

Kyushu Electric Power Co 9508.T has a 25 percent stake in the joint venture, Shikoku Electric Power 9507.T 15 percent and Itochu Corp 8001.T the remaining 10 percent. Uranium is used to fuel most of the world's nuclear reactors. Soaring oil prices and international attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have put the spotlight on nuclear energy. (Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori)