2013 – AusIMM International Uranium Conference, Darwin, NT
Australia has the potential to be the world’s top uranium producer however development of new uranium projects has slowed particularly in Australia.
The crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan after the Tsunami killed off the world’s appetite for nuclear energy and with it the price for yellowcake – making it so low that most projects other than Insitu Leach (ISL) are not viable. A number of projects are on hold waiting for the uranium price to improve.
The long awaited improvement in price has not materialised. A radical approach has been used to try and develop economically viable uranium projects.
This paper addresses the three options of uranium mining and its associated processing options including their long term sustainability in the current climate considering political implications of mining uranium ores. It considers mineralogy of ore and gangue, ore sorting, possible process routes and key drivers plus the potential for by products.
Reference is made to a number of current operating plants and their key differences.