Radiometric sorting in uranium processing cuts costs – METS

first_imgThe July issue of Mineral Engineering Technical Services’ (METS) Gazette reports that the rising uranium price and the increasing demand for nuclear energy has attracted many investors to reactivate the exploration and mining of uranium in Australia which has been known to contain about 40% of the world’s reserves of uranium. METS believes that this surge of investment will benefit from radiometric sorting in uranium processing: “Uranium can be commercially produced via conventional hydrometallurgical processes, including acid and alkaline leaching. The processes are efficient; however they can be quite costly for low grade ores. Combining hydrometallurgical processes with radiometric sorting provides a cost-effective means to solving this problem.”The report continued by saying: “It has been well accepted that the efficiency of uranium recovery is influenced by the mineralogical characteristics of the ore. The uranium mineral composition and mode of occurrence affects uranium dissolution, while the bulk composition controls reagent consumption.“Radiometric sorting separates uranium ore from the waste rock, producing a uranium-rich beneficiated ore for subsequent processing in the hydrometallurgical circuit. While it reduces the load of downstream processing, it also makes the downstream operations more economically viable with reduction in plant capital and operating costs. For example, a decrease in the waste rock content could avoid the long leach retention time. Hence, this technique is particularly attractive when the downstream processing cost is higher than normal. Vein type deposits show a good potential to be upgraded by radiometric sorting. These deposits contain discrete high grade minerals that are easily separated from the low grade material and gangue.”The report said that radiometric sorting also allows the mining process to be more flexible by providing means to increase the output at the existing facilities and to maintain the output to cope with the declining grades. “Modern radiometric sorting technology also allows the unit to be controlled based on the U3O8 upgrade ratio. This is particularly useful when the mineralisation is close to the economic cutoff grade or a rapid response is required to account for the grade changes.”METS concluded by saying that radiometric sorting is expected to play an integral role in the minerals industry, particularly in uranium processing.last_img read more