fifth-lecture-npre442-sp11 - 2/10/2011 Uranium Resources...

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2/10/2011 1 Uranium Resources and Mining Wastes “I began more carefully to look around me. A serious study of the soil was necessary to negate or confirm my hypothesis.” —Henry Lawson in “Journey to the Center of the Earth” by Jules Verne. U ore versus waste
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2/10/2011 2 Uranium Resources More than 50% of the world’s uranium comes from mines in Canada, Australia, and Kazakhstan In 2008, Canada exported 9,920 tons of (20.5% of the demand) Australia: Exported 8,000 tons of U in 2009. Has largest reserves on earth. About 23% of the earth’s U. Kazakhstan has 15% of the world’s resources. Now the largest exporter of U: 13,500 tons U in 2009! Uranium Resources
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2/10/2011 3 Uranium Extraction Underground mines 41% Open pits 24% In-situ leaching 26% By-product 9% (phosphate in Florida) Uranium Resources The largest mine in the world McArthur River Mine in Saskatchewan, Canada. Underground mine. U as pitchblende Discovered in 1980 Ore quality: 17.5% proven U 3 O 8 , and about 21% reserves. Produced 7,200 tons of U in 2006 (18.3% of the global production)
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2/10/2011 4
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2/10/2011 5 Uranium Resources Second largest Ranger Mine in North Australia. Open pit Discovered in 1969 Ore quality: 0.2% U 3 O 8 Produced 4,026 tons of U in 2006 (10.2% of the global production) Ranger Open Pit, Australia
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2/10/2011 6 Active US Mines State mines Details Colorado One open pit 3 more reopening Nebraska One In-situ leaching (ISL) New Mexico None, but . . . New permit for an underground mine in 2009 Texas 3 mines Open pit and ISL
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2/10/2011 7 Active US Mines Utah 1 mine Underground Wyoming Smith Ranch- Highland mines ISL. Largest producer in US
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2/10/2011 8 Uranium Prices U prices 2001 $7/pound (record low) 2007 $113/pound (almost record high) Feb. 4, 2008 $75/pound Feb. 12, 2010 $42.50/pound Jan. 21, 2011 $69.00/ pound as U 3 O 8
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2/10/2011 9 How long will the supply of U last?
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2/10/2011 10 Uranium Waste Rock All mines in the US are in the west, and thus so are the wastes. Waste rock from mining. The non-ore rock that must be removed to access the ore. In open pit mines, the ratio of waste-to-ore may be 40:1 or greater. That is, for each ton of U ore, there be 40 tons of waste rock. Uranium Waste Rock Example: an open pit at the Key Lake open mine in Saskatchewan, Canada produced 3.67 tons of U ore (1.95% U) and 79.6 tons of waste rock. Now mined out. The choice of pits or underground mines depends on depth of ore. Underground mines are more expensive.
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11 Uranium Waste Rock Historically The waste rock was abandoned on-site as piles on the surface (not unique to U mining). Some waste rock contained sulfide minerals which oxidized to form sulfuric acid. These piles are sources of heavy metals and threatened surface and groundwater quality. The waste rock "pyramids" of
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This note was uploaded on 12/04/2011 for the course NPRE 442 taught by Professor Stubbins during the Fall '08 term at University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign.

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fifth-lecture-npre442-sp11 - 2/10/2011 Uranium Resources...

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