Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Crunch coming on uranium supplies?

The mining industry has recognized for years that the world's nuclear power plants use more uranium than is being mined. The shortfall has been made up from stockpiles in Russia and other countries but that agreement ends in 2012.

An interview with mining analyst Alka Singh lays out the numbers:  433 currently operating nuclear power reactors around the world annually consume 177 million pounds (Mlb) of uranium. World  production was 130 Mlb last year.  The U.S.'s 104 operating nuclear power reactors used 55 Mlb while the U.S. produced only 4 Mlb.  [Right, highly enriched uranium.  Credit, US DOE]

Thus, the industry's rush to find and develop enough uranium resources to keep the plants fueled, and one reason that the breccia pipes in northern Arizona, which have among the highest concentrations of uranium of any deposits, are a strategic target for mining.


4 comments:

  1. Anonymous5:46 PM

    Why not use uranium from surplus warheads? Get rid of dangerous weapons, create energy, prevent more uranium mining pollution--three birds, one stone.

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous7:52 AM

      Considering that plutonium is used in nuclear weapons, I don't think that will work.

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    2. U-238 converts to plutonium during during nuclear reactions. Both plutonium and uranium are used in fission.

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  2. A map displaying the location of the pipes would be nifty. I googled and found a possible map, located North of the Grand Canyon.

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