New study on uranium from phosphates
31 July 2007
Nuclear fuel analyst and trader Nukem has agreed to conduct a study for CF Industries on extracting uranium as a biproduct from operations at the Plant City Phosphate Complex in Florida, USA.
The two companies are seeking long-term uranium supply contracts with US electricity utilities for the 900,000 lbs (408 tonnes) of U3O8 a recovery facility could produce each year as a biproduct of phosphate fertilizer production operations.
Uranium makes up 50-200 ppm in the phosphate rich soil mined by CF Industries in central Florida which is processed at Plant City before resulting fertilizers are transported to the mid-western USA.
The statement said: "If contracts can be obtained that support the projected economics, the companies plan to obtain project financing and permits and proceed with detailed engineering of the proposed facility."
Recovery of uranium from phosphates has taken place in Florida and Belgium before but these operations closed down in the late 1990s due to low uranium prices of around $10-15/lb U3O8.
The OECD Nuclear Energy Agency's so-called Red Book states that estimated production costs for a 100 tonne per year plant would be in the range $27-45/lb U3O8. The spot price of uranium now, according to Ux Consulting and TradeTech, is $120/lb and $123/lb U3O8 respectively, down from a high of $136/lb last month.
Around 22 million tonnes of uranium exist in phosphate deposits worldwide.
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