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Energy Minerals Division

A Division of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists

Uranium (Nuclear Minerals)

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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.


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.

Summary of the 2014 EMD Uranium (Nuclear and Rare Earth) Committee Annual Report

Committee Activities

During the past six months, the AAPG Energy Minerals Division’s Uranium (Nuclear and Rare Earth) Committee (UCOM) continued to monitor the expansion of the nuclear power industry and associated uranium exploration and development in the United States and overseas. Input for this 2014 Annual Report has also been provided by Henry M. Wise, P.G., (Vice-Chair: Industry) on industry activities in uranium, thorium, and rare-earth exploration; Steven Sibray, C.P.G., Vice  Chair (University) on university activities in uranium, thorium, and rare-earth research; and by Robert Gregory, P.G., Vice Chair (Government) on governmental (State and Federal) activities in uranium, thorium, and rare-earth research, with special input from other members of the Advisory Group.

Thorium and rare earth activities are also updated in the Annual Report, which is a function approved by the UCOM in 2011. On the basis that they often occur together, we provide summary information on current thorium and rare-earth exploration and mining, and associated geopolitical activities.

The EMD Uranium (Nuclear Minerals) Committee is also pleased to remind the reader that the Jay M. McMurray Memorial Grant is awarded annually to a deserving student whose research involves uranium or nuclear fuel energy. This grant is made available through the AAPG Grants-In-Aid Program, and is endowed by the AAPG Foundation with contributions from his wife, Katherine McMurray, and several colleagues and friends. Those students having an interest in applying for the grant should contact the UCOM Chairman for further information and guidance. The biography of Mr. McMurray’s outstanding contributions to the uranium industry in the U.S. and overseas is presented (here).

Committee Publications

The EMD co-sponsored Journal: Natural Resources Research has published the bi-annual Unconventional Energy Resources: 2013 Review in Volume 23, Issue 1, March, 2014 (more). The UCOM 2013 contribution begins on page 62 and is titled: Uranium, Thorium, and Associated Rare Earth Elements of Industrial Interest. The 2011 version (here); 2009 (here); and 2007 (here).

The AAPG-EMD Memoir 101: Energy Resources for Human Settlement in the Solar System and Earth's Future in Space was released in mid-2013. The EMD’s Uranium (Nuclear and REE Minerals) Committee and members of I2M Associates, LLC, contributed the final Chapter 9, entitled: Nuclear Power and Associated Environmental Issues in the Transition of Exploration and Mining on Earth to the Development of Off-World Natural Resources in the 21st Century.

Chapter 9 is presented here as a revised PDF version of the chapter. Chapter 9 is preceded by Chapter 9’s Table of Contents, and is followed by the author biographies of the chapter, the Memoir 101’s Press Release, the book’s Table of Contents, ordering information, book preface, and a copy of the front book cover (more). Forbes.com has highlighted Memoir 101 in a recent article emphasizing the coverage of Chapters 8 and 9 (more).

Nuclear Outreach

James Conca, Ph.D., a member of the Advisory Group of this UCOM, has also been contributing popular articles to Forbes.com on many other nuclear subjects. Some of these articles are listed below:

1. “Coal Doesn't Have To Die - We Can Make Furniture Out of It.” (here)

2. “Beyond Earth's Atmosphere - Energy Needs for Space Colonization” (here).

3. “Like We've Been Saying - Radiation Is Not A Big Deal” (here).

4. “How Deadly is Your Kilowatt? We Rank the Killer Energy Sources” (here).

5. “Where would YOU put our Nuclear Waste?” (here).

I2M Associates, LLC maintains a Web Portal that provides up-to-date articles and reviews of current and historical uranium (nuclear and rare-earth) related activities in the U.S. and around the world (more).

I2M also monitors the national and local press and publishes “Confronting Media & Other Bias Against Uranium Exploration & Mining, Nuclear Power, and Associated Environmental Issues,” (more).

Executive Summary from the 2014 Annual Report, April 5, 2014

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” for updates to the Annual and Mid-Year Reports 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.
Uranium (Nuclear Minerals) Committee
Office: 713-807-0021


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