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Title: A top-down assessment of energy, water and land use in uranium mining, milling, and refining

Land, water and energy use are key measures of the sustainability of uranium production into the future. As the most attractive, accessible deposits are mined out, future discoveries may prove to be significantly, perhaps unsustainably, more intensive consumers of environmental resources. A number of previous attempts have been made to provide empirical relationships connecting these environmental impact metrics to process variables such as stripping ratio and ore grade. These earlier attempts were often constrained by a lack of real world data and perform poorly when compared against data from modern operations. This paper conditions new empirical models of energy, water and land use in uranium mining, milling, and refining on contemporary data reported by operating mines. It shows that, at present, direct energy use from uranium production represents less than 1% of the electrical energy produced by the once-through fuel cycle. Projections of future energy intensity from uranium production are also possible by coupling the empirical models with estimates of uranium crustal abundance, characteristics of new discoveries, and demand. The projections show that even for the most pessimistic of scenarios considered, by 2100, the direct energy use from uranium production represents less than 3% of the electrical energy produced bymore » the contemporary once-through fuel cycle.« less
Authors:
; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
1116756
Report Number(s):
INL/JOU-13-30638
Journal ID: ISSN 0140-9883
DOE Contract Number:
DE-AC07-05ID14517
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Energy Economics; Journal Volume: 40
Research Org:
Idaho National Laboratory (INL)
Sponsoring Org:
DOE - NE
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
99 GENERAL AND MISCELLANEOUS emissions; environmental impacts; uranium