Uranium resources and mining
Uranium is a relatively common metal. The quantity that is readily available for human use is far larger than the quantity that would be required to fuel a vastly larger base of nuclear reactors than the one that is in operation today. The Uranium Information Center has published an excellent briefing paper titled Supply of Uranium that was last updated in June 2006.
That information paper directly contradicts the adamant antinuclear activists who try to make the case that the world’s supply of uranium is comparable to the world’s supply of fossil fuel. They are often trying to convince people that there is no use in expending significant resources in developing new nuclear power plants. According to their way of thinking, nuclear fission power is simply replacing one non renewable resource for another.
The reality is that there is a huge difference in potential energy available. Uranium prospecting has only just begun; there is a vast quantity of already mined uranium that is currently considered to be a waste product and there is an even larger potential resource base in the world’s supply of thorium.
Shane and I talk about these topics and others during Atomic Show #031.
During the show we made a couple of comments that deserve additional attention.
1. The chemicals most frequently used for In Situ Leaching (ISL) in the US are oxygen and carbon dioxide. That’s right, the acidic chemical that Shane mentioned during the show is essentially soda water with a pH of about 6.8-7.5.
2. Approximately 85% of the uranium mined in the US uses the ISL process.