The history of uranium mining

The history of uranium mining began in the 1800s when uranium ore was found throughout Colorado. Uranium deposits were also found in Canada and Mexico, which increased demand for this resource. This post will tell you about when uranium mining began and how it became popular.

The first people to find uranium ore were gold miners who noticed that the greenish-yellow mineral pitchblende would coat their gold mining equipment. Pitchblende was also used to color pottery glazes, porcelain items, or glass because of its yellow-green color.

Marie Curie, a Polish-born French chemist, and physicist discovered that uranium could harm people. In 1898 she and her husband found that pitchblende contained two new elements: radium and polonium. She later isolated pure uranium metal from the ore in 1911.

This article discusses the history of uranium mining and how it is done today. Uranium mining has been around since the 1800s.

In the 1800s, uranium mining began as a competition between France and Germany. In those days, uranium was not considered a radioactive material and was a sought-after commodity. This led to unfortunate consequences like an increase in uranium consumption, which increased cancer risk. The government should make this mining illegal.

Rio Tinto: the first large mining international corporation

The first company that comes to mind when you say uranium miner is Rio Tinto. They are the world’s largest producer of uranium, and they also mine copper and iron ore. The company has mined on four continents: Australia, South America, Africa, and North America.

rio tinto history and image of miners
Image from Riotinto.com

Rio Tinto is a multinational company and one of the world’s largest mining and metals companies. It has mines and projects in more than 20 countries and employs around 45,000 people. Rio Tinto has also been active in the uranium sector since 1955. The ore body produced by Rio Tinto is what drives the modern nuclear age as it currently makes over 23% of the global supply of uranium.

Rio Tinto’s involvement in the nuclear industry officially began in 1955 when they purchased a 51% controlling interest in an Australian mining company called Radium Hill who possessed the only known uranium deposit in Australia except for a few minors deposits.

Rio Tinto did research on nuclear power reactors in 1956 and was involved with many different mining companies. It owned stakes in 11 different mining companies and was also interested in the United States’ third-largest uranium mining company.

By the beginning of the 1980s, Rio Tinto had divested itself of all its uranium interests except for its stake in Australian mining companies, Ranger Uranium Mines and Nabarlek Uranium Mines. The divestiture was seen as a strategic move to focus on other aspects of the company.

rio tinto map with global business

In 2011, Rio Tinto exited the energy sector by selling its controlling stake. It was then reported that Rio Tinto would be taking a more “hands-off role” as it seeks to sell off most of its uranium interests.

How the uranium is mined?

When uranium is near the surface, miners dig the rock out of open pits. Open-pit mining takes away the dirt and gravel that lay on top of uranium. If there is uranium deep underground, miners need to go down inside tunnels to get it. They take out the rocks by going through tunnels.

Open-pit mining is when people take the dirt off a place and find what is underneath. Then they can find out if it has uranium in it. They do not dig deep underground because if there is a lot of radiation, it will come up from the ground and get into the air or water. This type of fishing has less risk for

how uranium is mining
Image from geoinfo.nmt.edu

Open-pit mining leaves piles of rock that contain little uranium. These piles are called “overburden” or “waste”. They may also be dumped into rivers, called “tailings dumps”, to create manufactured lakes. When water runoff from these areas gets into the rivers and groundwater in the Southwest, they can pollute them.

In an underground mine, miners set off a controlled explosion in the ore vein and then carry away ore-bearing rock in large carts to the surface. The unused “waste” rock also ends up on the surface in piles or can be left in place in underground rooms that are usually not stable enough to walk through safely without liability.

The environmental issues are where both of these mining techniques are the most destructive of the environment. Mining is responsible for many destroyed habitats, geological changes to rivers and surrounding land, tailings that leach into water supplies, mine fires that wreak havoc on underground ecosystems long after they have stopped being mined, etc.

Conclusion

The history of uranium mining began in the 1800s when uranium ore was found throughout Colorado. Uranium deposits were also found in Canada and Mexico, which increased demand for this resource. In recent years, nuclear power has been a hotly debated topic. Many countries are looking to move away from fossil fuels as an energy source.

Is uranium the answer to rapidly obtain clean energy, or will it go the same way as oil and coal did? Is it genuinely implausible that uranium production will ever reach its peak again, or is uranium the solution to quickly generate electricity? Why are individuals afraid of nuclear power?

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