Archive | Uranium and Nuclear Power Industry

Cameco suspends Cigar Lake uranium operations to reduce threat of COVID-19 spread – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – March 25, 2020)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Cameco Corp. has suspended operations at its massive Cigar Lake uranium mine in Saskatchewan to reduce the threat of spreading the novel coronavirus into remote communities in northern parts of the province.

One of the biggest uranium mines in the world, Cigar Lake is located about 650 kilometers north of Saskatoon, and is a fly-in/fly-out operation.

In a statement, Cameco said the decision to idle Cigar Lake for four weeks was motivated by the “restrictions enacted by the federal and provincial governments, the significant degree of concern among leaders in remote isolated communities of northern Saskatchewan, and the increased challenges of maintaining the recommended physical distancing.” Continue Reading →

Environmentalists fear more uranium mining near Grand Canyon may be impending – by Debra Utacia Krol (Arizona Republic – March 17, 2020)

https://www.azcentral.com/

Environmentalists and tribal leaders are gearing up to address a long-anticipated recommendation to reopen the Grand Canyon region to uranium mining.

The Nuclear Fuel Working Group, established by President Donald Trump in July 2019 to explore domestic uranium production, is expected to release its findings and recommendations soon. And those recommendations are almost certain to include increasing the domestic supply of uranium, which was named one of the U.S.’s critical minerals in 2018.

That puts uranium on the same footing with minerals like cobalt and lithium, used in the electronics industry, and rare earth elements like titanium and tin. These minerals are so designated because they are essential to the U.S. economy and, because many of these minerals are heavily imported, the supply of one or more may be disrupted, according to the American Geosciences Institute. Continue Reading →

How COVID-19 is affecting the bottom line in Sask.’s biggest industries – by Chelsea Laskowski (CBC News Saskatchewan – March 17, 2020)

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/

Saskatchewan’s biggest industries are forging ahead with limited impact in the face of COVID-19, but are paying keen attention to its long-term effects. Potash and uranium mines are taking precautions with staff, but spokespeople with Nutrien and Cameco, the biggest players in both industries in the province, say there have been no disruptions to production.

Spring seeding hasn’t started in agriculture yet, but there are long-term repercussions that could hit next month. In the short term, oil has been the hardest hit.

Oil

Oil prices plummeted early last week. There were other factors causing the dip that were unrelated to coronavirus, but as the disease has spread there are new major pressures on the industry. Continue Reading →

OPINION: To lead on climate, Canada should invest in the next generation of nuclear reactors – by Robert Bryce (Globe and Mail – March 14, 2020)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Robert Bryce’s latest book is A Question of Power: Electricity and The Wealth of Nations, from which this essay is adapted.

Coal use in Canada continues to decline. In 2018, the amount of electricity produced from coal was about 59 terawatt-hours, or roughly half as much as the country’s utilities were producing in 2000.

Canada was able to slash its coal use thanks to its reliable nuclear plants, an increase in natural-gas-fired generation and growth in renewables. But if you think the rest of the world is going to quit using coal, think again. A total of nearly 200 gigawatts of new coal-fired capacity is now under construction around the world in places such as China, India, Turkey, Vietnam, Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

Furthermore, and perhaps most surprisingly, Japan, the birthplace of the Kyoto Protocol, the world’s first international agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions, is also building new coal plants, up to 22 of them. Continue Reading →

Researcher: Uranium cleanup should be No. 1 priority – by Rima Krisst (Navajo Times – March 12, 2020)

https://navajotimes.com/

CROWNPOINT, N.M.: “Illness due to uranium is no longer just the story of the miners. It’s the story of their children and grandchildren,” said Southwest Research and Information Center Environmental Health Specialist Chris Shuey. Shuey, who studies contaminants in the environment and their potential health effects, calls the legacy of uranium mining on the Navajo Nation an atrocity.

“Hopefully, these hearings will result in new and better policy to speed up the cleanup, fund addition health studies, and get reparations and compensation for the people,” said Shuey, who presented at a hearing in Crownpoint on a proposed Navajo Nation position statement on uranium.

Because of the shroud of secrecy and superstition surrounding uranium as a weapon of war, health studies and continuing education about the impacts did not occur as soon as they should have, he said. “Not knowing and not talking is equivalent to a death sentence because you can’t do anything about it,” said Shuey. Continue Reading →

Feds bullish on nuclear: Minister visits Sask. north – by Glenn Hicks (LaRongeNow.com – March 10, 2020)

https://larongenow.com/

“Show me a credible plan that doesn’t involve nuclear.” That’s the strong endorsement for Saskatchewan’s uranium sector from federal Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan who has just wrapped a visit to the North.

O’Regan, who has been minister for a few months, said he wanted to acquaint himself with the world’s richest uranium mine at Cigar Lake and also visit the various northern communities who rely on mining jobs, such as Hatchet Lake, Black Lake and Fond du Lac. But he also carried with him an unequivocal message about Ottawa’s stance on nuclear as part of the route toward net-zero emissions by 2050.

“There is no way that we can reach net-zero without nuclear energy, and there is no way we can reach net-zero without the mining industry,” he told paNOW. “When we talk of a carbon-free future we often point to things like electric cars. Well, they’re built of something: they’re built with metals and minerals.” Continue Reading →

‘Affordable, safe’ nuclear power is key to reaching Canada’s climate goals: federal minister – by Ryan Tumilty (National Post – February 28, 2020)

https://nationalpost.com/

‘I have not seen a credible plan for net zero without nuclear as part of the mix,’ Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan told a nuclear conference

OTTAWA – Canada must expand its nuclear power capacity if it is to reach its climate targets, the Minister of Natural Resources said Thursday. Speaking to the Canadian Nuclear Association’s annual conference, Seamus O’Regan said the industry has to grow.

“As the world tackles a changing climate, nuclear power is poised to provide the next wave of clean, affordable, safe and reliable power,” he told a packed room.

The Ottawa conference was the largest the industry has run with dozens of companies and more than 900 people in attendance. Provincial cabinet ministers from Saskatchewan and Ontario were also there. Those two provinces, along with New Brunswick, signed a memorandum in December to work together on small modular reactor technology. Continue Reading →

Northern mine cleanups continue; province, feds still divided on cost – by Alex MacPherson (Saskatoon StarPhoenix – February 24, 2020)

https://thestarphoenix.com/

Crews are expected to start assessing Saskatchewan’s first uranium mine, which was staked 100 years ago, this summer.

Saskatchewan’s first uranium discovery was staked a century ago, but it took almost three decades before prospectors gave up attempting to extract iron, copper and gold from the site and turned their attention to its last remaining mineral resource.

Named for the former Royal North-West Mounted Police officer who re-staked the site on the north shore of Lake Athabasca in 1929, the Nicholson mine underwent development in 1949 and sent out its first uranium shipments five years later.

Production halted in 1956 after Consolidated Nicholson Mines Ltd.’s supply contract ended in the face of falling prices. Subsequent efforts to resume mining failed and the remote site was abandoned with little cleanup effort a few years later. Continue Reading →

Trump proposal triggers rush of uranium mining plans, including in southern Utah – by Brady McCombs and Ellen Knickmeyer (Deseret News/Associated Press – February 23, 2020)

https://www.deseret.com/

SALT LAKE CITY — President Donald Trump’s $1.5 billion proposal to prop up the country’s nuclear fuel industry has emboldened at least one company to take steps toward boosting operations at dormant uranium mines around the West, including southeast Utah and outside Grand Canyon National Park.

The company, Canada-based Energy Fuels Inc., announced a stock sale and said it would use the proceeds for its uranium mining operations in the U.S. West.

The Trump administration asked Congress recently for $1.5 billion over 10 years to create a new national stockpile of U.S.-mined uranium, saying that propping up U.S. uranium production in the face of cheaper imports is a matter of vital energy security. Approval is far from certain in a highly partisan Congress. Continue Reading →

Jabiluka mine call slammed by traditional owners – by Peter Ker (Australian Financial Review – February 11, 2020)

https://www.afr.com/

Traditional land owners have rejected suggestions the Jabiluka uranium deposit should be developed and say they do not believe Rio Tinto has a ”secret agenda” to eventually mine the deposit.

The rare comments from the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (GAC) counter Zentree Investments founder Richard Magides’ belief that Jabiluka’s uranium will be valuable in future amid rising demand for carbon-free electricity from nuclear power stations.

Zentree is the second biggest shareholder in ASX listed Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) and has accused the biggest shareholder, Rio, of deliberately structuring a $476 million equity raising to enable it to take 100 per cent ownership of ERA. Continue Reading →

The great Alona Bay uranium rush of 1948 (Soo Today – February 2, 2020)

https://www.sootoday.com/

This edition of Remember This also examines rumours of a radioactive deposit in downtown Sault Ste. Marie

From the archives of the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library:

When you consider the history of uranium mining in Northern Ontario, Elliot Lake likely comes to mind. However, there is a radioactive connection further north as well, dating back almost 175 years.

In 1847, a Mr. Stanard, likely an American schooner captain, reported that radioactive material could be found along the shores of Lake Superior, near the area now known as Alona Bay. This information, reported by geologist J.L. LeConte in the American Journal of Science, marked the first recorded instance of radioactive material being discovered in Canada.

LeConte described the radioactive material and identified it as being related to pitchblende, a radioactive ore from which uranium is extracted. He named it coracite, a reference to the raven-black colour of the mineral. Continue Reading →

Pickering’s false alarm has raised false fears about nuclear power. The fallout from global warming is the bigger threat – by Martin Regg Cohn (Toronto Star – January 16, 2020)

https://www.thestar.com/

There’s every reason to find out why an emergency alert wrongly went out early Sunday over the Pickering nuclear plant. But a great deal of the alarmist rhetoric over that false alarm simply rings false.

Yes, the screw-up surely rattled many in the eastern GTA. Fear, followed by anger, was to be expected from families wondering if they had enough protective potassium iodide tablets on hand — even if the erroneous alert stressed no abnormal release of radioactivity in the unspecified “incident” that never was.

The reaction from residents was understandable. More predictable, perhaps, was the response from anti-nuclear critics who warned anyone awakened by Sunday morning’s alerts that it was a wake-up call of a higher order. Continue Reading →

We have good reasons to be alarmed about nuclear reactors – by Rosie DiManno (Toronto Star – January 15, 2020)

https://www.thestar.com/

Let me tell you about nuclear reactors and me. Because suddenly, on Sunday, a nuclear calamity was on everybody’s mind, GTA residents jolted into a queasy awareness of the aging Pickering facility when emergency officials “accidentally” issued a false alarm during testing of the alert system.

A vast complex hunkered down on the shore of Lake Ontario which, we learned just a day later — lousy timing — the Doug Ford government now intends to extend the life of the facility beyond its planned 2024 shuttering. One of the largest nuclear power stations in the world — with six active CANDU reactors — and one of the oldest. Should have been taken offline years ago, as environmentalists urged.

It does not engender much faith in the competence of the nuclear station’s management when they botch a simple communications exercise. Two hours passed before they reversed the erroneous warning. What if it had been a real emergency? Is it seriously possible that Ontario Power Generation is still relying on Amber Alert-type notification for the public’s protection? Continue Reading →

The Sunday alert’s real lesson — Canada’s nuclear reactors are safe – by Jonathan Kay (National Post – January 15, 2020)

https://nationalpost.com/

A strange, short-lived mini-panic afflicted Ontario on Sunday. And to the extent anyone was genuinely scared, some of the blame likely goes to The Simpsons.

“An incident was reported at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station,” read an emergency alert broadcast to millions of cellphones at 7:23 a.m. “There has been NO abnormal release of radioactivity … People near the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station DO NOT need to take any protective actions.”

Perhaps it says something about how my mind has been infected by cynical cultural tropes, but by the time I’d gotten to the end of the brief public message, I was channelling the false assurances offered to Simpsons-land TV viewers by Montgomery Burns about an imminent apocalypse at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant: “Oh, ‘meltdown.’ It’s one of these annoying buzzwords. We prefer to call it an unrequested fission surplus.” Continue Reading →

Australia’s wildfires should get us finally thinking rationally about nuclear power – by Kelly McParland (National Post – January 8, 2020)

https://nationalpost.com/

One attitude change that might help would be a re-evaluation of nuclear, which is emission-free but hobbled by public fears

I was watching a TV news report on the wildfires in Australia the other day when the announcer suddenly veered off on a tangent.

Until then the report had focused on the astounding images: people huddling on beaches or bobbing offshore on boats, desperately spraying homes with garden hoses against backdrops of burnt-orange skies out of an apocalyptic nightmare.

No doubt there was more to tell, but without warning the host launched into a finger-pointing session on global warming. There was nothing new or different, more a case of claiming victory. Hah, people are suffering! See! We were right! Admit it, this is all your fault! Continue Reading →