Uranium Mining

There is quite a lot of uranium in the world, in fact the Earth's crust consists of about two parts of uranium in every million, and the oceans have been estimated to contain 4500,000,000 tons of it! About two hundred different minerals contain it in various quantities but most of the commercially useful source comes in various oxides - chiefly uranite, which is mainly uranium dioxide, or pitchblende which is an ore containing large quantities of uranite together with traces of radium, polonium, thorium, lead and helium. Some of it is available very close to the surface where it can be easily extracted by earth-moving equipment but there are known seams which are buried up to more than a kilometre deep into the earth which have to be mined conventionally. Most of the easily-mined ore in the world comes from Canada, Australia, South Africa, the USA, Brazil, France, Southern Africa, Germany and England. It is not an easy mineral to mine, mainly because of it's radioactivity and the subsequent threat to the health of miners and other workers who come into contact with it; and once the uranium has been extracted the spoil is still dangerously radioactive so it has to be managed very carefully to avoid the risk of contamination of the environment. The problems don't end there; the metal still has to be extracted from the ore and this is not an easy task.

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