Issues at Operating Uranium Mines and Mills - Other Countries
(last updated 1 Dec 2018)
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Increase of uranium concentrations in snow on East Antarctic Plateau attributed to uranium mining in Australia
"[...] This study presents the Uranium concentrations time series from 1964 to 2009 obtained from a 3 m deep snow pit at Dome Argus, East Antarctic Plateau. The data shows that Uranium concentrations vary from 0.0067 pg g-1 to 0.12 pg g-1, with a mean concentration of 0.044 pg g-1. Its mean concentration is 2-3 folds lower than at West Antarctica study sites, such as the Antarctic Peninsula (mean 0.12 pg g-1), IC-6 (Ice Core-6) (mean 0.11 pg g-1) and a suite of ice cores from the US ITASE traverse.
Uranium record from a 3 m snow pit at Dome Argus, East Antarctica , by Zou X, Hou S, Liu K, et al., in: PLOS ONE, Oct. 31, 2018 (open access)
Before the mid-1980s, the varieties of Uranium concentrations are relatively stable, with a
very low mean concentration of 0.016 pg g-1 and its main source is sea salt deposition, while a small number of anthropogenic sources are likely to be caused by Uranium mining operations in South Africa.
A remarkable increase of Uranium concentrations has occurred since the mid-1980s (by a factor of ~ 9) compared with the amount before the mid-1980s. This increase coincides with the Uranium records at IC-6 and Antarctic Peninsula (DP-07-01) during the same period, and are mostly attributed to Uranium mining operations in Australia as a potential primary anthropogenic Uranium source. Our observations suggest that Uranium pollution in the atmosphere might have already become a global phenomenon." [emphasis added]
Oversupply situation in uranium market to continue for at least 10 years, UxC estimates
In a paper delivered at the IAEA Symposium on Uranium Raw Material (URAM-2018) on June 25, 2018, Nicolas Carter of The Ux Consulting Company, LLC presented the following Near and Medium-Term Outlook for the uranium market:
- Secondary supplies will meet up to one-quarter of uranium demand over the next several years
- Significant inventory overhang in 2018 - 2027 will require existing production be no greater than 135 - 145 million pounds [51,923 - 55,769 t U] per annum
- Inventory overhang could stretch out without further production cuts or if more reactors are retired early
Recent increase in Antarctic Peninsula ice core uranium concentrations caused from Australia's uranium mines, study finds
Recent increase in Antarctic Peninsula ice core uranium concentrations , by Mariusz Potocki, Paul A. Mayewski, Andrei V. Kurbatov, et al., in: Atmospheric Environment Vol. 140 (2016) p. 381-385 (open access article)
Our study provides the first continuous, high resolution record
of U concentrations from an Antarctic Peninsula ice core. We report
significant U increases in the atmosphere over the last two decades.
Australia is the most likely source of U pollution captured by this
27-year Antarctic Peninsula snow archive. Therefore, we conclude
that U deposition at DP [Detroit Plateau] is likely related to U mining operations in
Areva invites contributions to Responsible Development Report 2015 on its mining activities
> View: Areva release Sep. 9, 2015
> Access: online questionnaire for the 2015 Report
> Download: Responsible Development report 2014 on Areva's Mining Activities (17.4MB PDF)
Abolition 2000 network calls for global ban on uranium mining
At the Abolition 2000 (Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons) Annual General Meeting held in Edinburgh on April 17-18, 2013, participants adopted a call for a global ban on uranium mining.
"[...] we call upon all governments, local and national, to permanently ban uranium mining within their territories and to ban both the import and export of uranium.
Without uranium, nuclear reactors cannot operate; without uranium, plutonium cannot be produced; without uranium or plutonium, nuclear weapons production is not possible. Cutting off the supply of uranium will reveal the contradictions inherent in the entire nuclear chain. It will eventually reduce the availability of fissile materials which can be fashioned into weapons of mass destruction. [...]"
> View Abolition 2000 release Apr. 20, 2013
World uranium resources not sufficient to supply a "nuclear renaissance", study
Known uranium resources will be sufficient to supply current reactors for 10 - 20 years, possibly 40 years. In unfavourable circumstances, however, in particular in case of massive construction of new nuclear power plants, supply gaps may arise in 20 years already, according to a study presented at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, Austria, on March 13, 2013.
> View Evaluation einer Hypothetischen "NUklearen Renaissance" (EHNUR) (in German)
> Download Fossil and Nuclear Fuels - the Supply
Outlook , Energy Watch Group, March 2013 (7MB PDF)
(uranium: p. 117-130 and p. 171-173)
Deutsche Bank's ailing Uranium Exploration Index Certificate among winners of award for most dangerous financial products
Deutsche Bank's DWS Go Uranium Exploration Index Certificate won the third place in the category "Products that harm the environment, the global poor and or third parties" of a competition to find the most harmful and dangerous financial product traded on the markets.
The competition was launched by Member of European Parliament Sven Giegold . Proposals were collected, from which a jury selected eight nominees. The winners were determined in an online vote and were announced on March 15, 2013.
The index certificate, however, has evolved to be not only dangerous for the reasons it was awarded for, but also for hopeful investors who acquired it: the DWS Go Uranium Exploration Index Certificate was launched on April 30, 2007, at an initial index level of 100, comprising approx. 50% uranium producers and 50% uranium exploration companies. The index thus was set up in the middle of the unprecedented 2007 uranium price rally and since has traded almost exclusively below its initial index level (view chart ). The index value has currently fallen to 13.95, and the index now exclusively contains uranium producers and an investment holding company. The index thus nicely reflects the current depression of the uranium market and that investors see no way to earn any money soon with investments into pure uranium exploration companies (so-called 'junior miners').
German banks still financing uranium mining projects, in spite of promises
After the Fukushima disaster, several major German banks had announced no longer to finance nuclear facilities. However, a review commissioned by German NGO urgewald shows otherwise: between March 2011 and January 2013, Deutsche Bank provided financing to uranium miners Areva and Rio Tinto, while UniCredit/HBV provided financing for Areva and BHP Billiton.
> Download: Was haben deutsche Banken aus Fukushima gelernt? urgewald, März 2013
UxC cuts 2020 nuclear expectations by 10% after Fukushima accident
Roswell-based Ux Consulting said on Monday (May 9) it expects there to be about a 10% reduction in nuclear generating capacity globally by 2020 as a result of the Japanese nuclear disaster in March.
Ux said it had revised its expectations downward by 43 GW of global nuclear power-generating capacity to 490 GW, with 545 operational reactors by that time.
(Mining Weekly May 9, 2011)
Cameco expects 8% reduction in global uranium consumption in 2011 as a result of Fukushima accident
"We expect events in Japan will result in an 8% reduction in global uranium consumption in 2011 from our previous estimate of 195 million pounds [75,000 t U]. The decrease is primarily driven by the shutdown of six units at Fukushima and Germany's decision to temporarily shut down seven of its oldest reactors and to place a three-month moratorium on the previously announced life extension of its reactor fleet."
(Cameco May 6, 2011)
[This would result in a demand of 69,000 t U in 2011. According to World Nuclear Association, world uranium demand was 68,800 t U in 2010.]
Bauxite and uranium are the two minerals most affected by fraud and corruption
"The recovery in metal prices has encouraged mining
and metals companies to reactivate capital projects
and exploration activities. This increased level of
activity is being undertaken with slimmed down
control environments by virtue of the cost
reductions of the recent global financial crisis.
These circumstances provide greater fraud risk.
Often in the quest for expanded production and
higher returns, these projects are being conducted
in countries more prone to corruption, and hence
provide a greater corruption risk."
> Download report Fraud and corruption in mining and metals, Focus on business ethics, 2010 , Ernst & Young (692k PDF)
Russian companies expect drop in world uranium production after 2025, as a result of depletion of deposits
Russian uranium companies predict a drop in world uranium extraction after 2025 as a result of increasing nuclear reactor construction.
"Uranium demands will be fulfilled in 2010-2020. A lag in production is expected after 2020, and after 2025 a decline in production is expected as a result of the decommissioning of mines when stocks are depleted," deputy head of Russian uranium company Atomredmetzoloto Aleksander Boytsov told the international Atomexpo-2010 forum on Wednesday (June 9).
Vladislav Korogodin from Russian atomic energy firm Rosatom said at the same forum that the number of global nuclear reactors will increase from 438 to 660 by 2030, possibly causing a fuel deficit.
Boytsov said the leading international uranium companies Cameco and Areva expect a drop in production after 2024 as a result of the depletion of the major MacArthur River, Cigar Lake and Akuta mines.
(RIA Novosti June 9, 2010)
Australian uranium dust found in Antarctic ice
An ice core from the Antarctic bears traces of uranium that may have been carried by the wind from Australian mines in 1995, a glacier expert has told a Chilean newspaper.
The minuscule amounts of the radioactive element "correspond to a year (1995) when Australia increased its uranium production," Ricardo Jaña, who participates in an international research effort in the frozen continent, told El Mercurio daily.
He said scientists theorise the uranium particles were carried by the wind from Australia and deposited in the northern part of the Antarctic's Detroit peninsula.
Dr Jaña works for the Chilean Antarctic Institute , which takes part in a joint Brazilian-Chilean-American glaciological and atmospheric research on the Detroit Plateau.
(ABC May 3, 2010)
Activists open "uranium mine" in front of Brussels head office of pro-nuclear Belgian party
On July 6, 2007, activists from Friends of the Earth constructed a "uranium mine" in front of the head offices of the Christian Democratic party (CD&V) on the Wetstraat in Brussels. The action coincided with the release of a report on the environmental and human rights impacts of the uranium mining that supplies the nuclear fuels for the Belgian nuclear power plants of Doel and Tihange.
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2006 World uranium production decreased by 5%
In 2006, the world uranium production of 39,655 t U was 5% lower than in 2005 (41,702 t U).
> View WNA Uranium production figures
> See also Uranium Maps