Thursday, October 10, 2013

Uranium Exploration and Mining: Something a little different

Uranium Comes From the Earth

Producing nuclear energy is a highly-engineered, specialized discipline.  Yet, when you get right down to it, the source of that energy is uranium.  Uranium comes from the earth.  Uranium ore is a mineral.  It is part of nature, just like everything else on this earth.

In graduate school, I chose to study mineral chemistry.  Today,  I am devoting this blog post to the intersection between minerals, mining and nuclear energy. With videos.

Movie Time

The first video explains how companies explore for uranium. The second is an overview of uranium mining and milling technology.  I hope you enjoy these videos.

Exploring for Uranium

Fission Uranium Corp PLS 3D Fly-Through from Fission Uranium Corp. on Vimeo.

Mining and Milling Uranium

From the Heritage Foundation:

Geology and Me

When I was in grad school, I worked toward a Ph.D. in geochemistry. My thesis advisor, Dr. Ole Kleppa, granted degrees in chemistry and in geology. I have always been very interested in minerals, geochemistry, and mining. 

Another connection.  My husband's family were hardrock miners. The Angwins come from Cornwall, where they have been miners for generations. Maybe "generations" is too short a description.  "Thousands of years"might be better?  At any rate, whether or not the Angwins were mining it,  tin has been mined in Cornwall since the early bronze age (2000 B.C.E.)  

I hope that someday I can meet one of my husband's cousins: Michael Angwin of the Australian Uranium Association. Another mining connection.

Various Acknowledgments 

ANS Nuclear Cafe hosted an excellent "nuclear matinee" on uranium mining, this summer.

People interested in uranium and the fuel cycle will probably enjoy following Andrea Jennetta's blog: I Dig U Mining.  I especially recommend her latest post: Uranium Opponents Ask the Wrong Questions.

 I did not complete my Ph.D. degree with Dr. Kleppa. I only have a master's degree. Don't introduce me as "Dr. Angwin." It's wrong.


Andrea Jennetta said...

Well, how am I going to NOT like this post? Thanks for the shout out, Meredith!

Mike Mulligan said...

But 98% percent of domestic nuclear industry gets powered from so called Russian nuclear weapons.

There is a not more non domestic source of energy in our nation...

Meredith Angwin said...


For about ten years, 50% of our power plant uranium came from real (not "so-called") Russian warheads. These warheads were used to light our cities, not destroy our cities, in the "megatons to megawatts" program. Your "98%" and your "so-called weapons" are just wrong.

The megawatts program is very close to ending, and our uranium supply is mostly Canada and Africa.

Mike Mulligan said...

So 20,000 bombs divided by 500 tons of highly enriched uranium gives you on average 50 pounds of bomb grade uranium. The 50 pounds numbers doesn’t match up to what a bomb actually uses.

Most of this material was made by Russian gulag prisoners....a nation of very little employee protections and thug kinds of management or political enforcement.

They were salting current production into this stuff.

The whole thing is called weapons of mass destruction altruism washing...potentially almost an infinite amount of earthly wrong doing could be made minuscule by saving the earth five times over with destroying these weapons.

Obscene wrong doing and a lack of morality on a huge scale covered up by the so called destruction of tens of thousands of nuclear weapons and the potential destruction of the earth five times over.

Meredith Angwin said...


You think we shouldn't use uranium from weapons of mass destruction for power production--because of the gulag system in the old Soviet Union? You still say "covered up" by "so-called destruction" of weapons?

Well...whatever. I am tired of your aimless negativity. I think you should post your opinions of the Megatons to Megawatts program on your own blog, in the future. Because they aren't going to be posted here at my blog.

Unknown said...

One pound of uranium is worth about 3 million pounds worth of coal or oil. Greed.

Flame detection

Meredith Angwin said...


You are against mining minerals that have high value? Does this extend to gold, diamonds, rare earths, etc?

As a matter of fact, since you link to a commercial website in your comment, I was about to classify your comment as spam. But I decided to post the comment since you did at least mention uranium. I am not sure that I made the right decision.

Just a note though, that this comment stream is for comments on the topic under discussion, not for advertising your business.