Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook: Metals, minerals, and fuels 1972
Year 1972, Volume 1 (1972)
Woodmansee, Walter C.
Uranium, pp. 1261-1285 ff. PDF (2.8 MB)
1261Uranium By Walter C. Woodmansee' The domestic uranium industry, from mining and milling through the nuclear fuel cycle to fuels reprocessing and waste management, made further progress toward establishing facilities adequate for an accelerating future demand. Exploration for uranium in the Western States was at a rate similar to that of 1971, but emphasis was on deeper drilling. Discoveries of significant new ore deposits were announced. There was little change in ore reserves, as determined by the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), which placed increased emphasis on potential resources and on higher cost ores. Output of U3O8 concentrate increased; 20 mills, three of which started production during the year, were in operation. Two mills were closed and placed on a standby basis. Other sectors of the nuclear fuels industry continued development plans, which, however, were slowed by a soft market and environmental opposition. The AEC announced a new program of sharing enrichment technology with selected domestic companies and foreign nations. Despite plans for an expanding domestic nuclear industry, the current market was one of continuing oversupply, excessive stocks, and soft prices. The AEC announced a new policy whereby it would not sell its U3O8 stockpile in the domestic or foreign market but would use it in preproducing enriched uranium for future sales, thereby avoiding direct competition with U308 producers in the domes—tic market. Although a uranium surplus prevailed, this situation was considered temporary; it was anticipated that low-cost U3O8 reserves and forward supply were not improving at 1 Physical scientist, Division of Nonferrous Metals, Associate Directorate—Mineral Supply. Table 1.—Salient uranium concentrate (U308) statistics (Short tons Us08 unless otherwise specified) 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 Production: Domestic: Mine: 1 Ore thousand tons~ 6,448 Content of ore 12,570 Average grade of ore~percent UsOs 0.195 Recoverable'2 12,070 Value'3 thousands~ $182,698 Mill,concentrate~ 12,368 World's 23,005 Deliveries of concentrate: 5,904 12,281 0.208 11,870 $142,161 11,609 23,083 6,324 12,768 0.202 12,190 ' $147,569 12,905 24,161 6,279 12,907 0.205 12,260 $151,996 12,273 23,921 6,418 13,667 0.213 12,880 $162,272 12,900 27,277 Atomic Energy Commission: Quantity 7,337 Value thousands $117,026 Price per pound $8.00 Privateindustry' 5,000 Imports, concentrate 470Reserves' thousand tons 161 6,184 $72,336 $5.85 6,200 1,504 204 2,520 $28,078 $5.59 9,300 665 246 12,800 942 273 - -- 11,600 2,284 273 Employment7 numberofpersons~ 8,355 9,059 8,165 7,373 6,403 Estimate. r Revised. I Receipts at mills; excludes uranium from leaching operations, mine waters, and refinery residues. 2 Based on mill recovery factors. 8 Based on estimated recoverable content, average AEC price, and estimated average price for private sales for 1968—70; private sales only in 1971—72. Includes marketable concentrate from leaching operations. 5Non-Communlst only. At $8 per pound U3O,. 7 exploration, mining, and milling, at yearend. Sources: U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and Federal Bureau of Mines.
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