Learning About the New Uranium | Around the Cone
by Art Goodtimes
May 23, 2008 | 784 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
PIÑON RIDGE … Here’s a bit more info I dug up on the web about the proposal that will be showcased at the County’s regular meeting in Norwood this coming Wednesday … “In a presentation to the Northwest Mining Association Convention, Energy Fuels Vice President for Corporate Marketing, Gary R. Steele, said the rapid development of the Piñon Ridge Mill site can be attributed to licensing authority of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), instead of the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission [Colorado is an Agreement State, to which NRC relinquishes the authority to license uranium mills]. By working with the regulators, Energy Fuels is confident of mill start up in 2010. Located in the uranium mining-friendly environment of Montrose County, the mill will have both uranium and vanadium recovery circuits. It is located on 880 acres of private land owned by Energy Fuels, which Steele estimated is large enough for more than 30 years of tailings disposal [resulting in more than 10 million tons of tailings]. (Mineweb Dec. 17, 2007) … On July 18, 2007, Energy Fuels, Inc., announced that it had acquired approximately 1,000 acres of property located west of Naturita in the Paradox Valley, where it intends to construct its uranium mill. Initial engineering studies indicate that at historical U3O8 grades the Piñon Ridge Mill will be designed to produce between 1.6 million and 2.0 million pounds of U3O8 (yellowcake) per year … In addition, the mines in the local region (the Uravan Mining District) produce vanadium (V2O5) as an associated mineral with uranium. The presence of vanadium in these deposits effectively lowers the cost of uranium extraction. At historical V2O5 grades for this region, the Piñon Ridge Mill will also produce 5 million to 8 million pounds of V2O5 per year. The current spot price for V2O5 is in the $7.50 to $8.00 per pound range … Mill license review and approval are expected to require about 16 months from the time of application submittal. The company plans to submit the mill license application in approximately 12 months. Mill operations are expected to commence in 2010. (Energy Fuels Inc. July 18, 2007) … Energy Fuels Resources President George Glasier said the new mill could employ about 100 people and process uranium and vanadium from mines all over the Western Slope. Subsidiary of its Canadian parent, Nucla-based Energy Fuels Resources owns two uranium mines near Gateway and several others in Utah between Moab and Blanding. Other small mines in the region could be on the way, said Glasier. It will ERF about nine months to build it, he said … Environmental concerns include the mill's potential impact on area air quality and how the uranium ore is stored and transported, according to Colorado Environmental Coalition organizer Lee-Ann Hill (Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, October 7, 2006)

CARBON … my friend Steve Clark likes to point out, “Collectively in the U.S. we are using 10kW of power per person and producing 20+ tons of CO2. We need to get to 1/2 ton -- a 95% reduction in carbon fuel use.” … Can we do it?

YELLOWCAKE … No, it’s not dessert. At least not in these parts. It’s the concentrates of the ore body mined in this region for uranium – carnotite (which also contains vanadium) … Also know as urania, yellowcake is a uranium concentrate obtained from leach solutions. It represents an intermediate step in the processing of uranium ores – not the final product and now the raw ore. These concentrates are prepared by various extraction and refining methods. Typically yellowcakes are processed into a coarse powder which is insoluble in water, containing about 80% uranium oxide, and which melts at approximately 2878°C … The ore is first mashed by passing raw carnotite through crushers and grinders to produce "pulped" ore. This is further processed with concentrated acid, alkaline, or peroxide solutions to leach out the uranium. Yellowcake is what remains after drying and filtering. The yellowcake produced by most modern mills is actually brown or black, not yellow. The name comes from the color and texture of the concentrates produced by early mining operations … Initially, the compounds formed in yellowcakes were not identified. In 1970, the U.S. Bureau of Mine still referred to yellowcakes as the final precipitate formed in the milling process and considered it to be ammonium diuranate or sodium diuranate. The compositions were variable and depended upon the leachant and subsequent precipitating conditions. Among the compounds identified in yellowcakes include: uranyl hydroxide, uranyl sulfate, sodium para-uranate, and uranyl peroxide, along with various uranium oxides. Modern yellowcake typically contains 70 to 90 percent triuranium octoxide (U3O8) by weight. [Other uranium oxides, such as uranium dioxide (UO2) and uranium trioxide (UO3), exist] … Yellowcake is used in the preparation of fuel for nuclear reactors, where it is processed into purified UO2 for use in fuel rods for Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors and other systems using unenriched uranium. It may also be enriched, by being converted to uranium hexafluoride gas (UF6), by isotope separation through gaseous diffusion or in a gas centrifuge to produce enriched uranium suitable for use in weapons and reactors … Yellowcake is produced by all countries in which uranium is mined.”

© 2008 Art Goodtimes


Flash Point

an excerpt

Like the sun

life sometimes surprises you with light

and half remembered beauty.

It comes dazzling over the horizon

or gleaming on the ripples of a breezy sea,

and stuns you,

or it emerges all at once from the greening earth

in blossoms on the apple tree

or at season's end, sweet, ripe fruit.


Like the sun

life sometimes surprises you with light

and all the world shines.

Amy Hannon

New Jersey

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