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92 Extraction of Uranium& the environmental impacts 238.03
How? Uranium resources can be extracted from the ground in three ways: • Open pit • Underground • In-situ leaching (ISL)
Open Pit For shallow ore bodies Involves removal of overburden A lot of waste rock removed Greatest environmental impacts (<400ft)
Case Study • Jackpile Mine on Laguna Pueblowas once the largest! • ≈ 7,868 acres • ≈ 25 million tons extracted
Underground • For deeper ore bodies • Involves access shafts and tunnels • Less waste rock removed • Less environmental impacts
Grade control • How is it achieved? • Measure radioactivity using a radiometric device • Device detects decay products of uranium
In-situ Leaching • For ore bodies which lie in groundwater • Groundwater circulated through underground aquifer containing uranium • Leaching solution dissolves uranium • Dissolved uranium pumped out and recovered as a precipitate • Least environmental impacts