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Energy Minerals Division

A Division of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists

Uranium (Nuclear Minerals)

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Introduction

Uranium is an abundant element in the earth’s crust and occurs in economic concentrations in a variety of geological environments ranging from Precambrian (Proterozoic) in age to sediments of Tertiary age. Uranium occurs in geographic locations ranging from the cold of the high latitudes of Canada and Russia to the heat of the tropics of Australia, Africa and Brazil. It also is available as by-products from nuclear devices, from processing phosphate deposits, and from other sources.

Resources

Reserve estimates are based on geophysical logs and an estimate of the physical dimensions of the mineralization. Reserve needs are based on industry estimates for new reactors and historical usage of older reactors, which depends on the reactor design. With the present expansion in the use of nuclear power expected to continue for the next 100 years, the dependence on overseas oil and gas will be reduced. This, along with reducing the use of coal over the next 30 years, will have a significant, positive impact on easing global warming and a marked impact on world political stability.

We assess the potential problems inherent in predicting uranium reserves and in developing these reserves, both from a technical point of view and a societal perspective, which must be combined by any company engaged in uranium exploration and recovery. Environmental considerations involving ground-water sampling of area water wells prior to in situ recovery (ISR) are an integral part of every uranium-development project and depend on the geographical location of the deposit under consideration. In some areas, uranium occurs naturally in aquifers and this is the reason for the need for comprehensive background ground-water studies before uranium recovery operations are undertaken. Socio-economic issues have become an important part of uranium recovery projects today.

Balance of Interests

Non-political State and Federal interests must be balanced between the interests of national needs and security and local protection with economic development. Without this balance, damage to society would occur at a time when we can least afford it. Filtered through industry perspectives, we evaluate these issues both in terms of developing uranium within the U.S. sphere of influence and of managing the environmental responsibilities associated with it.

For a complete version of the above, see the Committee’s Annual Report (May 2013) on the EMD Members Only page (log-in required).

If you would like to learn more about nuclear minerals (uranium, thorium, helium-3, etc), or to receive information on nuclear power, or on activities of the EMD Uranium Committee, join the EMD. If you are already an EMD Member, see “Members Only Page” http://emd.aapg.org/members_only/uranium/ for updates on uranium exploration and recovery in the U.S. and overseas, for links to technical information on exploration and uranium recovery operations, and for related environmental regulations and associated issues.

For further information on this committee’s activities, go to the Members’ Only Web page or contact:

Michael D. Campbell, P.G., P.H.
Chair
Uranium (Nuclear Minerals) Committee
Office: 713-807-0021

Explorer

July 2010: Moon Uranium Has Intriguing Implications
by Michael D Campbell and William A. Ambrose
May 2007: Price Boosts Uranium E&P, Nuclear Is Part of Energy Equation
EMD Column by Michael D. Campbell
May 2005: Fear Still a Factor, 'Nuclear' Re-enters Energy Picture
by Louise S. Durham, Explorer Correspondent