Over the last half-century, uranium has become one of the most sought-after minerals on the planet. From energy to healthcare, this revolutionary substance has applications in a variety of industries. As such, let’s take a few moments to consider the uranium mining and extraction process as well as its immense value throughout the world.
Though it’s traditionally mined through open-pit or tunnel mining, uranium is also being recovered from sand, gravel, ocean waters, and through heap leaching. The most common recovery process is known as in-situ recovery (ISR) or in-situ leach mining (ISL) in which solutions are pumped into the ground, uranium deposits are broken up, and the resulting uranium is removed and processed.
Once recovered from a traditional mine, uranium ore is ground in a mill and then leached with a sulfuric acid mixture. ISR procedures skip the mashing step and instead move directly to the leaching phase.
Pure uranium is then sifted from the resulting product, washed, dried, pressed into what’s known as yellowcake and packaged for use.
If you’ve never stopped to think about where this multi-purpose mineral comes from, here are a few facts about uranium mining.
1. Uranium is more common than gold, silver, and mercury, it just occurs in lower concentrations, typically about .1 to .2 percent.
2. Up until 2014, more uranium had been mined in Canada than any other country in the world – about ⅕ of the world total. Some mines have a potency of up to 20 percent.
3. Kazakhstan currently provides more than 20 percent of the world’s uranium.
5. Though more than 20 countries are actively extracting uranium, currently ten mines in six countries provide 85 percent of the world’s uranium.
Recent years have seen a decline in the popularity of uranium. However, as the United States moves toward energy independence, the US uranium industry believes that good things could be on the horizon.
Currently, international uranium suppliers are cutting production OPEC-style to cure a global supply glut. As technology improves, it’s believed that the popularity of uranium will improve again too.
When mining materials like uranium – precision and care are the most important aspects to consider. Since uranium occurs at such low densities, it takes a trained hand and the world’s best machinery to ensure success.
Whether you’re focused on extracting uranium, or your professional priorities involve safety, efficiency, and dependability – you can’t do better than the solutions provided by General Kinematics. Regardless of the challenges you’re facing, our expert staff and energy-efficient vibratory equipment can help deliver a viable solution.
Contact our technical experts today and see if we can engineer a solution that works for you.