Environmentally sustainable uranium mining is not just a matter of interest for the uranium-producing companies and countries, but is also of concern to uranium-consuming countries and companies.
The uranium mining industry is evolving in response to the need for expanded uranium production demonstrated by the significantly increased price of uranium since 2003. Longstanding producing countries are finding it challenging to increase production due in part to public resistance based on a poor understanding of modern mining practices. Many “junior” companies are active and only a select few are making the transition from uranium exploration to production. In addition, some countries without experience in uranium mining are either hosting new mines or laying the groundwork to begin uranium production.
Uranium mining practices have evolved considerably since the mid to late 20th century when most of the legacy sites were produced. Although most of these sites have been remediated, the outdated practices that produced the legacies as well as their impacts on the workforce, local inhabitants and the environment, remain a fundamental part of the mindset of those opposed to uranium mining. The purpose of this working group was to produce an account of the practices employed by modern uranium miners and to review up-to-date information on the health and environmental impacts of modern mining practices and regulations in all uranium producing countries.
Last reviewed: 25 October 2011