EDITOR: | June 10th, 2016

Russian government to prevent shortage of uranium in the country

| June 10, 2016 | No Comments
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Museum mineral series: Radioactive Metatorbernite (copper uranyl phosphate) from Zaire.Rosatom may accelerate uranium production in Russia during the next several years, which may involve the use of dangerous technologies during the development of new uranium fields.

The increase of uranium production is an acute need for Russia, which should help to prevent a shortage of uranium in the country, as predicted by some local analysts.

Currently uranium mining remains very labor-intensive in Russia, while its local production remains still insufficient to meet the country’s needs. Last year total production of uranium in Russia amounted to 3,000 tonnes, which is, however, by about 5 times lower the country’s needs.

Due to this, Rosatom has recently decided to resume the development of the Dobrovolnyh uranium field, which is located in the Kurgan region, one of the centers of uranium production in Russia.

Development of the field was suspended as far back during the Soviet times due to the need of the use of concentrated sulfuric acid, however, amid the potential threat of a shortage of uranium in Russia, these plans were recently revised by Rosatom.

Official commissioning of the Dobrovolnyh uranium field, which is part of the Transural Uranium Ore District (which also includes Dalmatovskoye and  Khokhlovskoye uranium fields and has the total resource base of 18,500 tonnes of uranium)  is scheduled for 2025. Exploration drilling is due to start in the second half of 2017.

Rosatom plans that the volume of uranium production at the field will reach 700 tonnes per year by 2025, compared to 590 tonnes in 2015.

In the meantime, in addition to domestic uranium fields, as part of the plans, Rosatom is accelerating of uranium production abroad, and in particular on foreign uranium fields, owned by the company.

Currently Rosatom controls up to 20% of the US uranium capacities, which are operated by the company as a result of the acquisition of Canadian Uranium One company in 2009 and the company has not ruled out the possibility of the increase of uranium production in the US.

In addition to the US, particular hopes of Russia are put on the increase of uranium production in other emerging nations, one of which is Mongolia.

Currently Mongolia remains one of the world’s most promising countries, in terms of uranium production, which is mainly due to its huge reserves. According to some estimates of the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources, the country’s proven uranium reserves are estimated at 1.4 million tonnes, which makes Mongolia the world’s fifth-largest uranium producer.

Overall, Rosatom plans to reduce by 35% the costs of uranium production and to increase by 6 times the overall uranium output during the next several years.

Implementation of cost-cutting policy is an acute need for Rosatom, as, in recent years the costs of the development of the industry of nuclear power in Russia have significantly increased.

Currently the cost of construction of nuclear power plants in Russia is high, being estimated at about US$3,800 per kilowatt. This is by about two times higher than the construction of nuclear power plants in China, and almost five times higher than the construction of gas power plants in Russia.

Currently Russia operates 10 nuclear power plants with 34 nuclear reactors. The overall number of uranium fields in the country is 200 units and, according to recent statements of Sergey Kiriyenko, head of Rosatom, they can provide Russia with stable uranium supplies for the needs of its nuclear industry for the period of 200 year. These forecasts, however, according to analysts of the Russian Ministry of Energy, are too optimistic.


Eugene Gerden

Editor:

Eugene Gerden is an international free-lance writer, based in St. Petersburg, who specializes on writing in the field of mining, metals and rare earth metals. ... <Read more about Eugene Gerden>


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