What is uranium/ uranium mining
Uranium is a chemical element found usually found in rocks underground, in water and is used for nuclear energy and fatal weapons. Uranium mining is the process of extracting uranium in the form of rock. Most of the worlds Uranium mines are located in Canada, Kazakhstan and Australia and 20% of the worlds uranium comes from Canada. Northern Saskatchewan Athabasca Basin and Mc Arthur river is responsible for 18% of the worlds uranium but recently Canada's production dropped 5%.
How do we mine uranium
Uranium is found in 2 places underground and in water but there are 3 ways to mine it. Open pit mining, Underground mining and In-situ recovery. Open Pit happens traditionally when the uranium is less than 100 meters underground so they create clear the land and blast an immense hole using shovels, drilling and peumatic drilling. Underground mining is when the uranium is more than 100 meters underground so they dig down close to where the uranium is and they dig tunnels and shafts to access the resource. Uranium can sometimes be extracted by pumping so they put pipes underground and they pump it back to the surface and this process is called In-Situ recovery.
IS mining uranium sustainable or eco friendly
The sustainability of Uranium is dependent on one thing, can we access it from water? We are researching ways to access uranium from water but haven't found a way yet. Based of what we do know uranium mining and uranium its self is quite sustainable. we have enough uranium to last us 230 years. this would be great if the environmental impact was low. mining uranium uses fresh water, harsh chemicals, the fact that the actual mineral takes 200-500 thousand years to decompose and since we are clear cutting areas to dig mines that diminishes the amount of trees and habitats for the animals.
impact on humans
Part of mining uranium is the extraction to take the uranium, but since uranium is a chemical element it can cause a lot of health problems if you are not taking the proper steps to keep yourself safe. Uranium is radioactive so it releases radiation that can lead to leukemia and lung cancer, birth defects damage to kidneys and liver, and a weakened immune system. also there is always the possibility of when underground mining the mine to collapse. Since uranium is inside a rock we have to use a highly corrosive acid (sulphric) but if they are used recklessly it can contaminate the water and kill thousands of people.
uranium and the economy
Uranium in mineral form can be traded with many countries but we mainly supply to America, Asia and Europe, but recently Canadian uranium mines have been producing less uranium and went from 20% to 15% production also, meaning trades have decreased. one pound of uranium costs $50 and traditionally ship about$ 96 billion dollars worth of uranium to America and $21 billion dollars worth of uranium to Asia which gives us a total of $117 billion dollars from those 2 countries, but that isn't just profit because we have to pay all the people who work in or with the mines. last year the production was valued at 1.2 billion dollars and export was valued at 1 billion dollars but Canada has recently made a deal with India for 350 billion dollars.
How do we continue to manage this resource today so we don’t compromise future generations ability to use the resource?
In conclusion we do need to protect uranium for the future and we can do so by finding a more renewable, eco-friendly and safe alternative we can also preserve the resource by only mining what we need and only clearing the space that we need to protect the ecosystem and the habitat to that area. Uranium is very important to nuclear power that we use so we can not stop using uranium but we have to think of new and innovative ways to preserve uranium for the future generations.