While reiterating plans to resume reactor construction, the head of one of the largest Chinese nuclear companies has said the country will expand its uranium prospecting abroad.

Sun Qin, chairman of the China National Nuclear Corp. that runs more than 40 percent of the country's nuclear sites, said his company will accelerate exploration in Australia, Africa and Central Asia. China's demand for uranium will rise as it resumes an ambitious reactor development program. Sun also said he expects new mines in China will eventually supply half of the country's uranium in the future.

His comments, reported in the state-controlled China Daily newspaper, came as the Communist Party leaders that control the country and much of its industry had assembled for a once-a-decade leadership transition. On Oct. 24, the State Council approved nuclear power plans that allowed the resumption of reactor permitting curtailed following the Fukushima Daiichi accidents in Japan. Though scaled back, the plans still call for more than tripling installed nuclear capacity to 40 gigawatts by 2015. Only coastal plants would be approved, though, in the next few years.

Sun said construction of inland plants might resume between 2016 and 2020, adding that safety research and risk evaluation of inland plants is ongoing.