The technological future of Canada's uranium industry

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 79, No. 891, 1986

M.E. GRIMES, Process Consultant, Formerly with A.M. Ross & Associates, Toronto, Ontario

The future of the uranium industry in Canada during the next twenty years will be very dependent on political and social issues on a world scale. Technology, as such, will tend to be of lesser importance. Nonetheless, some technical changes can be anticipated. This paper deals with milling of uranium ore, leaving further processing and nuclear power production to specialists in these fields. An attempt has been made to look at uranium production technology in Canada in relation to that in other countries, and to draw interference regarding future changes that seem probable in the Canadian context. In particular, recent advances in mill equipment are considered. The chemistry of uranium and its relatively low concentration in most ores has been responsible for a completely hydro-metallurgical approach to mill processing, and this should continue. In spite of little commercial success to date, precon-centration of lower grade ores will be researched further in order that these ores can compete with higher grade deposits in Canada. The discovery of the relatively high-grade ores of the Athabasksa region will undoubtedly influence choice of mill processes and equipment. The potential effect on innovations is discussed.
Keywords: Process technology, Uranium, Hydrometallurgy, Milling, Uranium recovery, Leaching, Comminution, Solvent extraction, Solids-liquid separation, Ion exchange, Tailings management.