Friday, November 20, 2009

Peak Uranium? Not Just Yet

Brian Wang recently posted an update on uranium ore production out to 2020. Brian looks at a number of different U - producing nations and mines in answering the question of whether there will be enough Uranium for 2020.
Michael Dittmar has been getting some notice around the internet about a claim that uranium supplies cannot/will not be increased from uranium mines around the world Many people who are using his report do not have time to read through more than the highlights and assume that his work is thorough.

Dittmar is biased. Problems and errors with his four papers have been pointed out to him and he ignores it. Also, his work as a particle physicist is not very good either as he is willing to be scientifically dishonest and misinterpret research papers even when the authors are in the room during his presentation and telling him he is wrong.

...Jordan already had a lot of uranium in phosphate deposits. China National Nuclear Corporation General Manager Kang Rixin expects that the first batch of uranium from Jordanian resources will be transported home in 2010; the total quantity probably will be 700 tons. (Caijing Magazine July 5, 2009). It has been expected that the uranium from Jordan phosphate would scale to 2000 tons per year.

Russia is developing the Elkon mine

Russia is developing the Gornoe mine (600 tons) for 2010-2012.

2009 should have 48,000 tons of production

2010 should have 54,000-56,000 tons of production
another 3000 tons from Kazakhstan, Valencia in Namibia, Full year of Malawi production

The world is going to over 100,000 tons of uranium per year in a business as usual mode before 2020. A lot more than the IAEA/OECD projection seem likely from Kazakhstan and less from Canada until Cigar Lake gets sorted out and depending upon which projects proceed based on uranium prices.

Backstopping regular mining is the large supplies of HEU, LEU in Russia and the US (75,000 ton surplus at the DOE). Another backstop is the depleted uranium.

Eventually prices will go up and some deferred projects like 2300/t per year Midwest mine in Saskatchwan, Canada and full scale up Imouraren in Niger will occur (smaller scale opening likely)

In part 1 of Dittmars uranium doom prediction he offers a bet

For those interested, I am offering a bet that the 2009 and 2010 numbers will not be higher than 45,000 tons and 47,000 tons, respectively.

I am willing to take those bets as stated. I would win and be correct if the 2009 world uranium mining production numbers come out to 45,001 tons or higher and the 2010 production numbers to 47,001 tons or higher.

As indicated, I think 2009 and 2010 should come out much higher even with some delayed projects and the accident at Olympic Dam.

I also predict that Cigar Lake will be producing 4000 tons per year or more before 2020.

Africa and Kazakhstan will be where most of the new uranium production is added leading to 2020. Increases from Canada, Australia, Russia, Jordan and other places as well.

Beyond the highly enriched uranium that Russia is supplying (downblended from decommissioned nuclear bombs or unmade bombs.) The US Department of Energy (DOE) also has 75,000 tons of uranium. Shortfalls in uranium mining from delays can be made up for by nuclear utilities being willing to pay Russia enough or to make arrangements with the DOE. The million tons of depleted Uranium can also be enriched to make several tens of thousand tons of fuel.

As Brian points out, enriched uranium can be downblended and depleted uranium can be enriched. Underground mines have barely been tapped for Uranium, and even seawater has Uranium that can be extracted for fuels.

The killer of "Peak Uranium" is Thorium, which is not only far more plentiful than Uranium in the Earth's crust, Thorium can also utilise waste fuel from the world's nuclear reactors for the Thorium cycle in LFTRs.

Peak Uranium is in the minds of those who actually want to witness widespread energy starvation, violence, and devastation in the cities of advanced nations. Peak Oil doomers, Peak Uranium doomers, Global Warming doomers -- they are all of the same crop of "bystander chic" incompetents. Raised in a psychologically neotenous environment to lifelong irresponsible adolescence, they cast about for entertainment bloody enough to sate their vacuous mental appetites.



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