Need To Include Mill Losses in Uranium Resource Demand Analyses

EMD-79-50: Published: Apr 10, 1979. Publicly Released: Apr 10, 1979.

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The adequacy of the uranium resource base has become a significant issue in the discussion of the long-term role of nuclear power. An assessment of the future role of nuclear power in the United States is now being completed.

Many studies do not account for the uranium losses from milling the uranium-bearing ore to extract U308. As a result these studies understate the actual demand of a nuclear reactor by citing the uranium purchased from a mill, not mined from a resource base. A Department of Energy (DOE) official said that DOE uranium estimates, which are consistent with the Ford/Mitre study, are demand at the mill, not at the mine. The International Nuclear Fuel Cycle Evaluation (INFCE) Program uses mill demand in its assessment of the demand on the uranium resource base. No correction is being made for milling losses and at the same time uranium ore grade has fallen by a third. It appears quite likely that the grade of mined uranium ore will continue to grow and the discrepancy between demand at the mill and demand at the mine will increase.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of DOE should assure more accurate assessment of resource depletion by ensuring that all future uranium demand estimates be made and so designated on the basis of demand at the mine; take steps to insure that the INFCE assessment of World uranium demand use mine demand not mill demand; and analyze any major policy that has contributed to the development of the Administrations's nuclear policies to see if it was mine or mill demand that was used in the analysis, and if it was mill, the analysis should be redone to see if the conclusions are affected.

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