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Uranium - Past and Future Challenges

Written by  Wednesday, 08 October 2014 08:24
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FSE’s Report on the Technische Universitat Bergakademie Freiberg Conference (programme) and the FSE’s Paper and Presentation on “Current Reclamation Of Historical Uraniferous Tailings Dams And Sand Dumps – Exacerbating The Mess Or Minimizing The Mining Footprint? Case Studies Within The Witwatersrand”. 


The papers which were presented at the Conference have been published by Springer in “Uranium –Past and Future Challenges –Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Uranium Mining  and Hydrogeology.” ISBN 978-3-319-11058-5. ISBN 978-3-319-11059-2 (eBook). The Editors are  Broder J. Merkel and Alireza Arab of the Institute for Geology, TU Bergakademie Freiberg, Freiberg,  Germany.

Extracts from the preface of the book read:
“In October 1995 the First International Conference on Uranium Mining and Hydrogeology took place with 350 participants from 30 countries at TU Bergakademie Freiberg in cooperation with the Saxonian State Ministry for Regional Development and the Environment and significant financial support from this state authority. The aim of the conference had been to discuss the danger for surface- and groundwater by former uranium mines, uranium treatment plants, heaps and tailings and appropriate cleanup technologies as well as modeling tools. At this time shortly after the end of the cold war most uranium mines were or had already been closed down, the environmental risk of the uranium brownfields became obvious and public awareness rose.
“Past challenges were countless mistake and carelessness related to mining, milling and processing of uranium that contaminated surface- and groundwater.
“Future challenges will focus on the situation after most of the uranium brownfields have been cleaned up. However, uncertainties of thermodynamic data and the lack of kinetic and sorption data will be a topic of future research. Another future topic will probably be the development of environmentally friendly technologies for nowadays uranium mining and mining of ores that contain significant amounts of radioactive elements, respectively. Therefore, further efforts have to be made to develop efficient and low-cost techniques to extract uranium from phosphates and REE-containing ores. This has to be accompanied by the definition of limits by state authorities for permissible uranium and thorium concentrations in fertilizers and naturally occurring radioactive materials.”