Module 102 The Nuclear Fuel Cycle
Sources of Uranium
Uranium is found in the earth's crust and is mined as ore.
The average concentration is 2 parts per million (ppm) in Show OT-15
the crust and less than 2 parts per billion (ppb) in the
oceans. During the 1960's and 1970's, a program titled the
Natural Uranium Resource Exploration was funded by the
government to identify the locations of desirable uranium
ore throughout the United States. It was determined that
the most desirable locations of uranium are in the
Colorado Plateau, the Wyoming Basin, and the flanks of
the Black Hills in South Dakota. In those locations, the
uranium concentration is much higher than 2 ppm.
Uranium is also found on the African Continent. The ore
is removed from either shallow open pits (less than 300-
foot, or100 m, depths) or underground mines (greater than
300-foot depths). The typical uranium content of the ore
is 0.15 - 0.3 percent and is in the form of U3O8, which is
called "yellowcake." Uranium is also found in secondary
minerals in the following forms: complex oxides,
silicates, phosphates, and vanadates.
Uranium Operations and Processes
Discuss the use of uranium
Uranium processing is dependent upon the desired
product, but it generally involves the following cycle:
your site as it is described
in this section of the lesson
· mining and milling,
· waste disposal/storage, and
· decontamination and decommissioning.