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Uranium, the new oil ?

Modelworks

Lifer
Feb 22, 2007
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Since the oil problem, the usa is starting to push nuclear again for power.
Two years ago uranium was 30.00 , now its 90.00 +.

They are re-opening uranium mines that were closed because it wasn't worth the cost of mining. Last year we used more uranium than we can supply, so its already in shortage, yet we are pushing nuclear ?

They also only use 5% of the uranium in a fuel rod in reactors. The other 95% in the fuel rod can't be used because it becomes contamintaed during its use. So you have a energy supply that waste 95% of the product it uses.

I also don't like the mining dangers. They are using mining that drills two holes, one that goes down to the uranium deposits below the water table, and a second that has a pump that brings out the uranium.

They flood the deposit with oxygenated water , causes it to break down, then pump it out the other pipe to the surface. The problem is both these pipes go through the water table.
The uranium is below the water table, so if there is the slightest leak , you contaminate the water for the area. And the EPA approved it.

The people that live on the surface can't stop the drilling on their own land because while
the own the land on the surface, they don't own the mineral rights deep down !

Buying land and a house then being told "we are drilling on your land, like it or not" is plain wrong. I worry that as the need for uranium grows we will see the government step in and start drilling everywhere, whether we like it or not.

 
Oct 27, 2007
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Obviously as demand for uranium increases the price will rise, but as you pointed out more mines are being opened up. There is currently no danger of a geological shortage of uranium like some say there is for oil, so as more mines are opened up the price increase should flatten out when it becomes economical to mine the majority of deposits.

The problem of fuel usage (the 5% you quoted) is a real issue with current generation reactors, but new reactors are under development that will put the fuel through multiple cycles and make much greater usage of the available uranium. One of the major goals put forth at the recent AAAS meeting was to use 90%+ of the fuel in multiple-cycle reactors, which will result in far more efficient nuclear power, leading to less mining requirements and less waste.

Unfortunately I'm just rushing out the door right now but this afternoon I will come back with more useful facts and figures and some references. Suffice to say that nuclear power is imperfect but still an excellent way to cut back on oil usage and greenhouse pollution.
 

BrownTown

Diamond Member
Dec 1, 2005
5,314
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I would also like to note that while it looks very bad seeing that uranium prices rose so rapidly for a while what you are actually seeing is uranium go BACK to the steady price, if you look in the long term uranium fell sharply after the USA and Russia began dismantling nuclear weapons and feeding the uranium into the civilian sector. This huge influx of uranium caused the price to drop sharply, however now that demand is increasing again there is actually a market for mined uranium and therefore the price went back up to a more "reasonable" value. In terms of $/btu uranium is still only a small fraction of what other fuels cost, the equivilent BTUs of a 100$ barrel of oil would be like 5$ of uranium (using current technology, like 20 cents using breeder reactors). Also, the quoted prices are spot market prices, however, most uranium contracts are long term and the spot market is only a small fraction of the uranium market and is far higher and more volitile than what the average cost of uranium is.

EDIT: there are other things one could mention to, for example the recent entrance of specualation into uranium prices which didn't used to be allowed, or the flooding of the Cigar Lake mine. The fact is that uranium has a VERY inelastic demand curve, pretty much only nuclear reactors use it and without uranium a 3 Billion dollar nuclear reactor is worthless, so the demand is steady even if prices increase ten fold.
 

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