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View Diary: Ken Salazar to announce 20-year extension of Grand Canyon uranium-mining ban (91 comments)

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  •  Weirdest part is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nulwee

    that the deposits are that shallow. If there's high grade ore that shallow, then the theories about how it got there are full of shit. Hmmm...

    •  Incorrect. . . the depth of the mineralization is (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bryfry

      approximately the depth from surface to the hermit shale which forms a trap for the uranium ore.  This depth varies - at the canon, the hermit shale has been completely eroded as you move north, the uranium or is exposed at surface, and then as you move further away it deepens.  See page 33 of the following presentation presentation [pdf] for details.

      In fact, the above presentation provides an excellent description of how these deposits are formed, current methods exploration methods and current mining methods.  

      I find it strange that the USA is dependent on huge amounts of imported uranium (both for electricity and for creating the most awesome terror weapons) but somehow is unwilling to mine it domestically.  On the other hand, the people of Saskatchewan, Kazakhstan, and Australia mine uranium, but don't use any of it - eiither for generating electricity or for killing people.

      The only source of energy where the the USA is self-sufficient is coal.  It seems to me that this pretty much guarantees major use of coal in the USA.

      My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world. - Jack Layton

      by Johnny Nucleo on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 03:37:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Strange? (0+ / 0-)
        I find it strange that the USA is dependent on huge amounts of imported uranium (both for electricity and for creating the most awesome terror weapons) ...

        Well, the US is not importing uranium for manufacturing new nuclear warheads.

        As for importing uranium for electricity, in recent years much of this imported uranium has come from the "Megatons to Megawatts" program, which started as an agreement in 1993 between the US and Russian governments to convert weapons-grade uranium to fuel for commercial nuclear reactors in the US. This program has converted several hundred tones of (weapons-grade) highly enriched uranium (equivalent to tens of thousands of nuclear warheads) to well over 10,000 tones of low enriched uranium, which has been used in US reactors to generate electricity.

        This amount of fuel is equivalent to about 150 thousand tonnes of uranium that would otherwise have needed to have been mined to produce an equivalent amount of fuel.

        I don't know whether "dependent" is the word that I would use to describe this situation. The US has simply been taking advantage of an available resource that serves two useful purposes: (1) reducing the number of nuclear weapons in the world, and (2) generating electricity.

        The US still has ample supplies of uranium that can be mined. This uranium has not been economical to mine in recent decades because of this cheap supply of uranium from old Russian weapons.

        Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
        -- Albert Einstein

        by bryfry on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 05:04:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  No domestic production = dependent upon others. (0+ / 0-)

          I'm glad the traditionally friendly Russians remain friendly (for now).

          FYI:   The demand for uranium has not been met by primary (mine) supply since 1985.  At one time only 50% of demand was met from primary supply, whereas currently  75% of the demand is met from primary supply:

          Secondary supply has been met by a few other sources:

          Commercial inventories.  These are believed to have been completely drawn down since the 70's.

          Megatonnes to megawatts ends in 2013.  The replacement deal, which deals with Russian commercial LEU will account for only halfthe uranium that was delivered under MT2MW.

          Reprocessing (3-4% of global market).  If the USA were to ever reprocess fuel, it would be an important source of domestic supply.  There is no plan to reprocess fuel in the USA.

          Increasingly, demand is being met by new production, which is all being entirely developed outside of the USA.  There is substantially no uranium mining in the USA.

          My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world. - Jack Layton

          by Johnny Nucleo on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 07:03:52 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Eh (0+ / 0-)
            Increasingly, demand is being met by new production, which is all being entirely developed outside of the USA. There is substantially no uranium mining in the USA.

            The lack of uranium mining in the US is due to economics. It has been prohibitively expensive to mine uranium here compared to purchasing downblended uranium from old Soviet bombs. When the economics change, domestic uranium production will change.

            Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
            -- Albert Einstein

            by bryfry on Sun Jan 08, 2012 at 01:19:57 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  I find it strange that you find it strange. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bryfry
        I find it strange that the USA is dependent on huge amounts of imported uranium (both for electricity and for creating the most awesome terror weapons) but somehow is unwilling to mine it domestically.  On the other hand, the people of Saskatchewan, Kazakhstan, and Australia mine uranium, but don't use any of it - eiither for generating electricity or for killing people.

        Do you find it strange that the USA is dependent on imported TVs and other electronics, clothing, and any number of other goods that it is somehow unwilling to manufacture domestically?

        It all comes down to cost of production. We have fairly large uranium reserves but the downblending of warheads through the Megatons to Megawatts program (we no longer produce "more awesome terror weapons") and the frankly cheaper uranium from elsewhere like Australia and Canada has driven the price down to the point of making most uranium production in the US uneconomic. Uranium is a byproduct of copper and gold mining in places like Australia where the marginal cost of extracting uranium from what would otherwise be left in the tailings is small. Just as the US puts marginal domestic oil wells back into production when world oil prices spike, domestic uranium production increases when world uranium prices go up (such as we can expect when the Megatons to Megawatts program ends).

        If the USA ever decided to get serious about building small modular fast reactors it already has enough depleted uranium stockpiled to power the country for centuries.

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