Thirty-four IAEA Member States are involved in exploration for and/or production of uranium resources. Twenty-two of these Member States are developing or emerging countries that are benefitting from specific types of IAEA support. Major Agency activities include:
Preparation of the global status report Uranium Resources, Production and Demand, also known as the "Red Book" on a biannual basis. The report is jointly prepared with the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The 1997 edition is the most complete ever with reports from 59 countries. It includes for the first time reports from all uranium producing countries, including official submissions from Russian Federation and Uzbekistan. It is useful to planners and policy makers involved with both uranium supply and demand.
The World Atlas Database. This world map of uranium deposits and accompanying guidebook is the first worldwide compilation of all uranium deposits featuring technical descriptions of their geologic setting, tonnage, grade, mine type and status. It supports national strategic planning, including decisions about economically developing indigenous uranium resources.
Transfer of Experience. During the past 15 years, the declining uranium price and increasing safety and environmental concerns about uranium mining operations has led to more complex regulations and the closing of uneconomic operations. At the same time exploration and mining technology has advanced substantially, bringing methods that are environmentally friendly and economically more efficient. The Agency is actively involved in transferring associated technologies and technical experience. Drawing more interest in many countries is in-situ leach mining, which recovers uranium from water-saturated, permeable sandstone deposits. Leaching solutions are injected through wells that are then pumped to recover uranium-bearing solutions for further processing. The method, which doesnít require breaking rocks and transporting them to a mill, has economic, environmental and safety benefits if projects are well planned and operated and deposits are carefully selected. It is used or being planned in Australia, China, Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, the Russian Federation, the United States, and Uzbekistan. About 13% of total world uranium production in 1996 came from in-situ leach mining. As part of its activities in this field, the IAEA is carrying out several technical cooperation projects and recently convened a technical meeting for developing countries on this subject.