Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Materials Section

Uranium Production Cycle


Technical Meeting On Uranium from Unconventional Resources

4 – 6 November 2009,
IAEA Headquarters, Vienna, Austria


I. INTRODUCTION

Current production of uranium is mainly from conventional resources, where uranium is recovered as a primary product, a co-product or an important by-product. Unconventional resources, on the other hand, are resources from which uranium is recoverable only as a minor by-product. These include uranium associated with phosphate rocks, non-ferrous ores, carbonatite, monazite bearing coastal sands, black shale, lignite, coal and seawater. Phosphate rocks are the major resource from which significant amount of uranium has been recovered in the past. Hitherto considered marginally economic, uranium production from phosphatic rocks has now become a competitive option due to the rising demand for uranium and buoyant market conditions. Other sources such as seawater and coal ash are potential sources which will gain importance in the future, as the high grade conventional resources get progressively depleted.

The existing information on the estimates of uranium resources associated with unconventional sources is far from complete. Efforts towards a comprehensive estimation of uranium from the unconventional sources will provide important inputs to long-term nuclear fuel cycle supply – demand scenarios and will be valuable in understanding the crustal endowment of uranium and its recycling through the geological time. Recovery of uranium from the above sources is necessary to address the environmental concerns due to radioactivity in the down-stream products such as phosphatic fertilizers and coal ash, and could prevent substantial loss of a valuable energy fuel.

The purpose of the Technical Meeting is to discuss a wide spectrum of technical issues related geology, mineralization, exploration models, resources estimation, challenges in extraction, economics, and environmental aspects related to uranium from unconventional resources.

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

II. TOPICS TO BE COVERED

The following specific topics vis-à-vis unconventional uranium resources are identified as being of particular interest, and shall be considered in the papers to be presented:

III. ORGANIZATION

Scientific Secretary:
Mr Harikrishnan Tulsidas
International Atomic Energy Agency
Wagramer Strasse 5
PO Box 100
1400 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43 1 2600 22470
Fax: +43 1 26007 22470
Email: T.Harikrishnan@iaea.org

Secretary:
Ms Ksenija Ajvazi,
International Atomic Energy Agency
Wagramer Strasse 5
PO Box 100
1400 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43 1 2600 22761
Fax: +43 1 26007 22761
Email: K.Ajvazi@iaea.org