Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Materials

Uranium Production Cycle

Technical Meeting on the
Origin of Sandstone Uranium Deposits: A Global Perspective

29 May – 1 June 2012,
IAEA Headquarters, Vienna, Austria



As the global uranium demand is expected to grow, in consonance with the expansion of nuclear power expected in many countries, there is a paramount need to identify new deposits of uranium. It is essential to identify uranium resources of a type that can be mined and processed easily and at low cost. Such resources could be brought into production very quickly in response to the rapid growth in uranium demand.

Sandstone uranium mineralization is the most abundant mineralization style and is to be found in every continent. About a quarter of the world’s identified uranium resources are of sandstone— these are distributed across 500 deposits reported in some 40 countries. Sandstone uranium deposits currently contribute to a major share of the world production of uranium. Some of the sandstone deposits are amenable to in situ leaching (ISL), which at present accounts for over 40 % of annual uranium production.

Uranium mining from sandstone deposits, due to its suitability for ISL, is low-cost and could be brought into production faster than for some of the other deposit types. Sandstone uranium deposits could also be developed by conventional open-pit and underground mining methods if the ISL option is found to be unsuitable. Many of the uranium projects that have been launched recently or that are expected to start soon are based on sandstone deposits.

There is an increasing interest worldwide in identifying more sandstone uranium resources. Considerable exploration efforts are being committed to discover such deposits. Such efforts rely extensively on a deeper understanding of the origin of sandstone deposits in a variety of geological environments.

Sandstone uranium deposits occur in medium to coarse-grained sandstones deposited in a continental fluvial or marginal marine sedimentary environment. Uranium is precipitated under reducing conditions caused by a variety of reducing agents within the sandstone, for example, carbonaceous material, sulphides, hydrocarbons and ferro-magnesium minerals. Sandstone uranium deposits can be divided into four main sub-types: roll-front, tabular, basal channel and tectonic/lithologic deposits.

The origin of sandstone uranium deposits is intimately related to the sources of uranium, the solutions that mobilize uranium, and the precipitating action of various agents. Hydrogen sulphide produced by bacteria or of oil/gas-related origins has been proposed as the principal reducing agent responsible for a number of important sandstone uranium deposits. Certain fracture-controlled and collapse breccia-pipe deposits also show evidence of having been formed under conditions similar to those of sandstone deposits. Salt-dome structures and fractures transecting carbonaceous sediments could also be favourable sites for uranium accumulation.

The purpose of this Technical Meeting is to provide a forum for experts from Member States to discuss recent advances in understanding the origin of sandstone uranium deposits and using this insight in exploration programmes for identifying new resources. Recent case histories and geological/exploration studies of sandstone uranium deposits will be discussed.

The target participants of the Technical Meeting are professionals from IAEA Member States who are engaged in uranium geology and exploration, resource evaluation and production, as well as researchers, energy planners and officials interested in uranium resources.

The Technical Meeting (TM) will be held at the IAEA Headquarters, Vienna, Austria.


The following specific topics are identified as being of particular interest, and shall be considered in the papers to be presented:

  • Geological setting and controls of sandstone uranium deposits;
  • Origin of sandstone uranium deposits;
  • Mineralization styles of sandstone uranium deposits;
  • Recognition criteria for sandstone uranium deposits;
  • Geochemical and geophysical exploration for sandstone uranium deposits;
  • Exploration and production case histories of sandstone uranium deposits; and
  • Socio-economic and environmental issues in production from sandstone uranium deposits.

Mr Michel Cuney
Research Director at French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS)
CREGU & UMR G2R 7566
Laboratory for ‘Geology and Management of Mineral and Energy Resources’
Henri Poincaré University – NANCY I
Research team ‘Genesis and Management of Mineral Resources’
Domaine Scientifique Victor Grignard - Entree 3B
BP 70 239 - F54 506 VANDOEUVRE les NANCY Cedex, France
Phone: 33-(0)3 83 68 47 09
Fax: 33-(0)3 83 68 47 01

Scientific Secretary:
Mr Harikrishnan Tulsidas
International Atomic Energy Agency
Vienna International Centre
1400 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43 1 2600 22758
Fax: +43 1 26007 22758

Administrative support:
Ms Emalina Awadissian
International Atomic Energy Agency
Vienna International Centre
1400 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43 1 2600 22765
Fax: +43 1 2600 29671


Each person wishing to participate in the meeting is requested to complete the attached Participation Form (Form A), indicating whether he or she intends to present a paper, and this must be sent to the IAEA through the competent official authority by 15 March 2012.

Participants are required to prepare a paper on the topic related to sandstone uranium deposits and to make a presentation of their paper. Each presentation should have a duration of approximately 20 minutes and should preferably be prepared in Microsoft PowerPoint format. Contributed papers and presentations should be submitted in English with an electronic version provided to the Scientific Secretary prior to the meeting.


The meeting will be held at IAEA Headquarters in Board Room A, Vienna International Centre (VIC), 1400 Vienna, Austria. Participants are advised to arrive one hour prior to the convening time of the meeting to allow for timely registration. They should present an official photo identification document in order to be admitted to the VIC premises.

The following web page on the IAEA Meetings and Conferences website: can be accessed for more detailed information on Vienna and the VIC.


Participants are also advised that they may require a valid passport and Schengen visa for entry into Austria. Accordingly, it would be advisable to begin the immediate preparation of travel arrangements and necessary authorizations. The Secretariat should be contacted as soon as possible if a formal invitation letter is needed in order to facilitate the visa request. We recommend that participants apply for visas in a timely manner, if necessary.


In accordance with the established rules, governments, national authorities, private companies or individual funding donors are expected to bear the travel and other costs of designated participants in the meeting. Limited funds are, however, available to help cover the cost of participants from Member States eligible to receive technical assistance under the IAEA’s technical cooperation programme. Such assistance can be offered, upon specific request, to one participant per country provided that, in the IAEA’s view, this participant will make an important contribution to the meeting. The application for financial support should be made at the time of the designation of the participant.

The Secretariat wishes to state that compensation is not payable by the IAEA for any damage to or loss of experts’ personal property. However, for the period of their engagement with the IAEA, including travel between their residence and the duty station, the designated experts will be covered under the IAEA’s insurance policy for permanent total disablement or death resulting from service-incurred accidents or illness up to a maximum of €100 000, for permanent partial disablement resulting from service-incurred accidents or illness up to a maximum of €100 000 and for medical expenses up to a maximum of €20 000 plus €10 000 for supplementary travel and accommodation expenses in case of illness or injury resulting from service-incurred accidents or illness, in accordance with the terms of the IAEA’s relevant insurance policy. This insurance coverage only covers accidents and illnesses insofar as they clearly result from attendance at an IAEA meeting. The IAEA recommends that experts also make arrangements for private insurance coverage on an individual basis.


The working language of the meeting will be English. All communications, abstracts, and papers must be sent in English.

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