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Eng.monash.edu.au/enveng Dr Gavin M Mudd Environmental Engineering Uranium Mining : Is It Environmentally Sustainable ? 18 October 2006.

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Presentation on theme: "Eng.monash.edu.au/enveng Dr Gavin M Mudd Environmental Engineering Uranium Mining : Is It Environmentally Sustainable ? 18 October 2006."— Presentation transcript:

1 eng.monash.edu.au/enveng Dr Gavin M Mudd Environmental Engineering Uranium Mining : Is It Environmentally Sustainable ? 18 October 2006

2 IES/UNSW Public Forum on Nuclear Power : 18 Oct 2006 – Dr Gavin M. Mudd : Uranium Mining : Is It Environmentally Sustainable ? / 2 Hiroshima, 6 Aug Bowker, 1948 The Eternal Nuclear Debate …

3 IES/UNSW Public Forum on Nuclear Power : 18 Oct 2006 – Dr Gavin M. Mudd : Uranium Mining : Is It Environmentally Sustainable ? / 3 Uranium Mining & Sustainability ? Brief History of World Uranium MiningBrief History of World Uranium Mining Outline of Principal Hypotheses in Current DebateOutline of Principal Hypotheses in Current Debate Detailed Case Study of Australian Uranium Mining & ResourcesDetailed Case Study of Australian Uranium Mining & Resources Global Trends in Production / ResourcesGlobal Trends in Production / Resources Sustainability Metrics ?Sustainability Metrics ? Summary and the Future ?Summary and the Future ?

4 IES/UNSW Public Forum on Nuclear Power : 18 Oct 2006 – Dr Gavin M. Mudd : Uranium Mining : Is It Environmentally Sustainable ? / 4 Nuclear Science ‘101’ : Brief History 1500’s – Agricola notes ‘lung wasting disease’ in east German miners … “killed by the pestilential air … lungs rot away”1500’s – Agricola notes ‘lung wasting disease’ in east German miners … “killed by the pestilential air … lungs rot away” 1789 – German chemist Klaproth discovers new kind of ‘half- metal’, naming it uranium (after the new planet)1789 – German chemist Klaproth discovers new kind of ‘half- metal’, naming it uranium (after the new planet) 1800’s – uranium used in glazing, ceramics, glassware, etc.1800’s – uranium used in glazing, ceramics, glassware, etc – French physicist Becquerel discovers the phenomenon of ‘radioactivity’ in uranium1896 – French physicist Becquerel discovers the phenomenon of ‘radioactivity’ in uranium 1898 – Polish chemist Marie Curie isolates new elements radium and polonium as the main source of radioactivity1898 – Polish chemist Marie Curie isolates new elements radium and polonium as the main source of radioactivity 1900’s (first decade) – idea of using radioactive radium for treating the growing ‘scourge of cancer’1900’s (first decade) – idea of using radioactive radium for treating the growing ‘scourge of cancer’ –global radium mining boom begins 1920’s – refined radium reaches £10,000 per gram1920’s – refined radium reaches £10,000 per gram

5 IES/UNSW Public Forum on Nuclear Power : 18 Oct 2006 – Dr Gavin M. Mudd : Uranium Mining : Is It Environmentally Sustainable ? / 5 Nuclear Science ‘101’ : Brief History # – nuclear physics breakthroughs – neutrons and deuterium were proven, new ‘accelerators’ split atoms1932 – nuclear physics breakthroughs – neutrons and deuterium were proven, new ‘accelerators’ split atoms 1934 – tritium (3H) discovered by Oliphant, first fission in uranium by Fermi (unknowingly at the time)1934 – tritium (3H) discovered by Oliphant, first fission in uranium by Fermi (unknowingly at the time) – fission in uranium established, chain reactions and concept of nuclear energy born – for energy & ‘bombs’ – fission in uranium established, chain reactions and concept of nuclear energy born – for energy & ‘bombs’ – global rush by the Allies to develop the bomb before Germany (and Japan) (the ‘Manhattan Project’) – global rush by the Allies to develop the bomb before Germany (and Japan) (the ‘Manhattan Project’) 1945 – August 6 & 9 – atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan1945 – August 6 & 9 – atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan 1940’s (late) – global uranium mining boom begins for weapons, dominated by Canada, USA, South Africa, …1940’s (late) – global uranium mining boom begins for weapons, dominated by Canada, USA, South Africa, … 1960’s (late) – global uranium mining boom begins for reactors, dominated by Canada, USA, Australia, …1960’s (late) – global uranium mining boom begins for reactors, dominated by Canada, USA, Australia, …

6 IES/UNSW Public Forum on Nuclear Power : 18 Oct 2006 – Dr Gavin M. Mudd : Uranium Mining : Is It Environmentally Sustainable ? / 6 Uranium Prod’n : Boom-Bust-Boom

7 IES/UNSW Public Forum on Nuclear Power : 18 Oct 2006 – Dr Gavin M. Mudd : Uranium Mining : Is It Environmentally Sustainable ? / 7 Principal Points of Debate : 1.Uranium Resources are Vast / Finite 2.Exploration will find more uranium 3.Environmental impacts are manageable / significant –site specific / strategic

8 IES/UNSW Public Forum on Nuclear Power : 18 Oct 2006 – Dr Gavin M. Mudd : Uranium Mining : Is It Environmentally Sustainable ? / 8 Australian Uranium Mining : 1 st & 2 nd First era saw uraniferous ores mined and processed for radium (minor U) 1910’s-20’sFirst era saw uraniferous ores mined and processed for radium (minor U) 1910’s-20’s Failed financially but provided fundamental basis for scientific expertise from 1940’sFailed financially but provided fundamental basis for scientific expertise from 1940’s 1950’s saw vast exploration & prospecting, leading to new numerous mines & 5 mills1950’s saw vast exploration & prospecting, leading to new numerous mines & 5 mills Majority of uranium supplied for weapons, some for nuclear power programsMajority of uranium supplied for weapons, some for nuclear power programs Left major environmental pollution legaciesLeft major environmental pollution legacies

9 IES/UNSW Public Forum on Nuclear Power : 18 Oct 2006 – Dr Gavin M. Mudd : Uranium Mining : Is It Environmentally Sustainable ? / 9 From late 1960’s following on from rapid developments overseas, companies embarked on major U exploration : unparalelled success in finding Ranger, Jabiluka, Nabarlek, Yeelirrie, Roxby, etc …From late 1960’s following on from rapid developments overseas, companies embarked on major U exploration : unparalelled success in finding Ranger, Jabiluka, Nabarlek, Yeelirrie, Roxby, etc … Coincided with major public concern and debate over nuclear power & weapons in 1970’s : some mines eventually opened …Coincided with major public concern and debate over nuclear power & weapons in 1970’s : some mines eventually opened … 1980’s stagnant, while mid-1990s saw new interest, Beverley acid leach mine …1980’s stagnant, while mid-1990s saw new interest, Beverley acid leach mine … Australian Uranium Mining : 3 rd Era

10 IES/UNSW Public Forum on Nuclear Power : 18 Oct 2006 – Dr Gavin M. Mudd : Uranium Mining : Is It Environmentally Sustainable ? / 10 Woolwich, Sydney, NSW, 1912 Radium Hill, ~1912

11 IES/UNSW Public Forum on Nuclear Power : 18 Oct 2006 – Dr Gavin M. Mudd : Uranium Mining : Is It Environmentally Sustainable ? / 11 The Rum Jungle Legacy …

12 IES/UNSW Public Forum on Nuclear Power : 18 Oct 2006 – Dr Gavin M. Mudd : Uranium Mining : Is It Environmentally Sustainable ? / 12 Australian Uranium Mining Data :

13 IES/UNSW Public Forum on Nuclear Power : 18 Oct 2006 – Dr Gavin M. Mudd : Uranium Mining : Is It Environmentally Sustainable ? / 13 Oz Uranium Production by Mine :

14 IES/UNSW Public Forum on Nuclear Power : 18 Oct 2006 – Dr Gavin M. Mudd : Uranium Mining : Is It Environmentally Sustainable ? / 14 By June 2006 :

15 IES/UNSW Public Forum on Nuclear Power : 18 Oct 2006 – Dr Gavin M. Mudd : Uranium Mining : Is It Environmentally Sustainable ? / 15 Ranger Uranium Project …

16 IES/UNSW Public Forum on Nuclear Power : 18 Oct 2006 – Dr Gavin M. Mudd : Uranium Mining : Is It Environmentally Sustainable ? / 16 Olympic Dam Cu-U-Au-Ag (mega…) Proposed Open Cut

17 IES/UNSW Public Forum on Nuclear Power : 18 Oct 2006 – Dr Gavin M. Mudd : Uranium Mining : Is It Environmentally Sustainable ? / 17 Sustainability Metrics … ? Multiple aspects to understanding sustainability of uranium miningMultiple aspects to understanding sustainability of uranium mining –legacy of past sites : water, radiation, etc … –known uranium resources –environmental cost of extraction & processing : >energy, water, emissions (CO 2 ), … –understanding possible future trends …

18 IES/UNSW Public Forum on Nuclear Power : 18 Oct 2006 – Dr Gavin M. Mudd : Uranium Mining : Is It Environmentally Sustainable ? / 18 Global Trends in Uranium Ore Grade

19 IES/UNSW Public Forum on Nuclear Power : 18 Oct 2006 – Dr Gavin M. Mudd : Uranium Mining : Is It Environmentally Sustainable ? / 19 Global Trends in Uranium Milling

20 IES/UNSW Public Forum on Nuclear Power : 18 Oct 2006 – Dr Gavin M. Mudd : Uranium Mining : Is It Environmentally Sustainable ? / 20 Global Trends in Uranium Resources

21 IES/UNSW Public Forum on Nuclear Power : 18 Oct 2006 – Dr Gavin M. Mudd : Uranium Mining : Is It Environmentally Sustainable ? / 21 Global Trends in U Resource Grade

22 IES/UNSW Public Forum on Nuclear Power : 18 Oct 2006 – Dr Gavin M. Mudd : Uranium Mining : Is It Environmentally Sustainable ? / 22 Global Trends in U Milling : Water

23 IES/UNSW Public Forum on Nuclear Power : 18 Oct 2006 – Dr Gavin M. Mudd : Uranium Mining : Is It Environmentally Sustainable ? / 23 Global Trends in U Milling : Energy

24 IES/UNSW Public Forum on Nuclear Power : 18 Oct 2006 – Dr Gavin M. Mudd : Uranium Mining : Is It Environmentally Sustainable ? / 24 Global Trends in U Milling : CO2

25 IES/UNSW Public Forum on Nuclear Power : 18 Oct 2006 – Dr Gavin M. Mudd : Uranium Mining : Is It Environmentally Sustainable ? / 25 Nabarlek

26 IES/UNSW Public Forum on Nuclear Power : 18 Oct 2006 – Dr Gavin M. Mudd : Uranium Mining : Is It Environmentally Sustainable ? / 26 Summary : U Mining v Sustainability Relatively brief history globally & Oz in terms of mining (<60 years)Relatively brief history globally & Oz in terms of mining (<60 years) Major impacts from legacy sites in OzMajor impacts from legacy sites in Oz Globally, ore grade is continuing to decline though recent Canadian mines delaying thisGlobally, ore grade is continuing to decline though recent Canadian mines delaying this Environmental “costs” are still not fully understood : long-term water quality impacts, radiation changes, true energy & water costs, emissions, etc …Environmental “costs” are still not fully understood : long-term water quality impacts, radiation changes, true energy & water costs, emissions, etc … Resources are finite but ENV COSTResources are finite but ENV COST

27 IES/UNSW Public Forum on Nuclear Power : 18 Oct 2006 – Dr Gavin M. Mudd : Uranium Mining : Is It Environmentally Sustainable ? / 27 Acknowledgements Numerous colleagues around AustraliaNumerous colleagues around Australia Peter Diehl (WISE Uranium Project)Peter Diehl (WISE Uranium Project) Numerous LibrariansNumerous Librarians Some References Mudd, 2005, Historical Records of Australian Science, v16, pp169–198.Mudd, 2005, Historical Records of Australian Science, v16, pp169–198. Mudd, 2005, Radiation Protection in Australasia, v22, pp Mudd, 2005, Radiation Protection in Australasia, v22, pp A few more are awaiting completion …A few more are awaiting completion …


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