Week 7 - Exploration, Extraction and Milling

What employment opportunities might arise if uranium mining was expanded in South Australia?


  1. I think most of the exploration has been done but there’d be jobs in extraction and milling. If processing to uranium oxide was to be expanded it would create a few more jobs. If the ore was simply milled then exported for processing it would mean fewer jobs.

    However this all depends on the mine owners and not state governments. Given the Olympic Dam layoffs announced today I think BHP have answered the question.

    Cleaning up the site after closure might employ a few.

  2. Of course, I favor the use of Thorium, rather than Uranium. Thorium ore is more plentiful, and much less expensive to convert into a usable power generator fuel (ThF4) than Uranium is.

    Thorium fuel can be fully used, unlike Uranium fuel rods which need to be removed and reprocessed after only a small fraction of the U235 fuel in the rod has been used to generate power.

    And with Thorium, there is no mountain of U238 to sell or store after the Uranium ore has been enriched for efficient power generation.

    Also, there is no devastating bomb that can be made from Thorium fuel – making the world safer for future generations.

    Thorium mining and processing to produce Thorium fuel for power generation is much simpler and less expensive than for Uranium, and while precautions against excessive radiation exposure still need to be enforced, these dangers are of a lesser magnitude than they are for Uranium.

    1. The whole State of South Australia will benefit from exploration, extraction, milling and other processing, power generation and disposal. Not to mention re-processing and disposal of nuclear waste from around the world.
      That’s just the benefits when the industry is up and running, the design and construction of all the necessary infrastructure will be enormous.

  3. In the submission: SCOTT Submission in Response to NFCRC Issues Paper ONE – Exploration, Extraction and Milling, there is a question: first, is it appropriate to plan for generation of electricity some years from now, by means of new equipment which will utilise a Rankine Cycle steam system? And the answer appears to be that it is not because the Rankine Cycle exhausts a large proportion of the input heat as waste to the plant environs and surrounding biosphere and given increasing international concerns about rising temperatures in the biosphere … that do not exhaust large fluxes of waste heat into the plant environs it may be concluded that it is inappropriate to include Rankine cycle plants.

    However, this conclusion need be not valid for the South Australian situation because although it is not usually done, it would be possible to divert this vast excess heat to a seawater distiller for a reactor located near the coast and produce fresh water. This is not usually done because it is cheaper to build those vast concrete coolers, and expel the waste heat into the atmosphere, and fresh water in in excess supply and inexpensive. The proposed distiller would only extract a portion of the fresh water from the seawater, and the resulting concentrated brine would be returned to the ocean. Most of the remaining heat in the brine (after distillation) could be used to preheat the incoming sea water to increase the overall thermal efficiency of the seawater distiller process.

    As an editorial comment on the site, this is the last comment that I will make to a submitted paper because I find it too difficult to get back to the comment pages from the pages containing the submissions. I could not find a menu to allow me to switch, and the Search function provided no help, and as I was unable to edit the url at the top left of one page to get to another. Basically, I had to log completely out of the site. My preference would have been to be able to display two pages simultaneously (using a new window) so that I could review submissions on the left, and post comments on the right of my screen. Finally it would improve comments if reference text could be displayed in italics to distinguish it from the associated comment(s) displayed in plain text.

  4. In respect to the Chamber of Minerals and Energy WA 06-08-2015 submissions to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, there is a strict focus on Uranium. I would respectfully suggest to the CME that they open the other eye, and consider the considerable advantages of a Thorium (LFTR) for producing both electric power, and ability to extract fresh water from seawater by distillation using the waste heat produced by the reactor. The Thorium fuel cycle has advantages over the Uranium cycle:
    1. Nearly all the mined Thorium can be consumed in a single pass in the reactor, whereas only a small fraction of the mined Uranium is usable in fuel rods; and the these Uranium fuel rods need to be reprocessed in order to use much of the Uranium in them.
    2. LFTR reactors can be shut down without the need for continuing electrical power and cooling – in fact loss of electrical power will safely shut down a LFTR without the need for any human intervention.
    3. Thorium salt reactors have been in research since the 1950’s, with several operating models by ORNL in the USA, and other countries, are well understood. The work at ORNL was shut down because it threatened the construction of Uranium reactors, needed to produce Plutonium for the USN’s SLBMs.
    3. Thorium fuel cannot be diverted for use in a nuclear weapon.

    Ref: “SuperFuel: Thorium, the Green Energy Source for the Future”, by Richard Martin ISBN-13:
    9780230341913, Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Publication date: 05/08/2012

  5. In the submission by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering , I may have missed it, but I did not find any reference to Thorium (eg using a LFTR), as superior fuel to Uranium for domestic power generation.

    While there is 60 years of literature on Thorium reactors, two recent examples are:

    1. THORIUM: energy cheaper than coal, by Robert Hargraves, 2012, ISBN-10: 1478161299; ISBN-13: 978-1478161295

    2. SuperFuel: Thorium, the Green Energy Source for the Future, by Richard Martin, 2013, ISBN-13: 978-1137278340, ISBN-10: 113727834X

  6. Comment on submission by Christopher Camarsh: Your paper describing the location of a nuclear power station in the ocean to facilitate dissipation of waste heat is quite interesting, but I propose to you a better solution for South Australia: Why not use this waste heat from the reactor to provide fresh water for drinking, industry and agriculture by the (partial) distillation of sea water, returning the residual brine back to the ocean?

    Also by having a (safer than Uranium) Thorium reactor on land, will facilitate much easier operation, maintenance, and repair. A Thorium (LFTR) reactor can shut itself down without human intervention, and will shut itself down safely in the event of total loss of electrical power, ie it does not require either electrical power, or a water supply to shut down.

  7. L:ots of medical careers for future generations?
    Oncology, genetic diseases, radiation poisoning, water pollution, war.

    Instead we could do renewable cold watersafe energy, which would be distributed allowing business to have their own essentially free power to run their own manufacture and distribution and they could innovate with those technologies and develop combined energy, water, storage, industry hubs which fit together as mixed manufacture in regional towns. This would give communities adaptive engineering capacity to develop new tools and technologies and could make energy a net profit rather than a cost to communities.