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Uranium Mining


Uranium is one of the heaviest and more common elements in the earth's crust. Its most distinctive physical property is its radioactivity, which contributes largely to the natural background radiation of the earth. Deposits of sufficient size and grade are required to make mining economically feasible. Locating such uranium deposits generally involves either ground and/or airborne geophysical surveys in areas of favourable geology, followed by drilling programs to test potential targets. If a uranium deposit is found, further drilling is required to more accurately delineate the deposit size and grade, prior to making a decision to develop a mine.


Mining uranium deposits presents several technical challenges in terms of ground water, rock properties and radiation protection. Uranium producers overcome these challenges to mine very high-grade deposits by developing innovative ground freezing techniques and mechanized, "non-entry" underground-mining methods. For lower-grade deposits, more traditional open-pit and underground mining methods are used. Safety is complicated by the presence of radioactive radon gas. This potential hazard is minimized by using powerful ventilation systems in underground mines, as well as remote-controlled and specially shielded equipment.

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