China drills deep in search for uranium

30 December 2019

A ceremony was held on 15 December at the Xiangshan uranium deposit near Fuzhou city in China's Jiangxi province to mark the start of the country's deepest drilling project related to the exploration of uranium resources. China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) said a 3000-metre-deep bore hole will be drilled.

The start of the deep drilling project at the Xiangshan deposit (Image: CNNC)

The Xiangshan deposit is China's largest volcanic-type uranium ore field. So far, exploration at the deposit has been limited within the surface structure, CNNC said while research into the deep metallogenic environment and conditions has been less focused on. The deposit has known uranium resources at depths of between 700 and 1000 metres, with identified resources of 30,000 tonnes. The Fuzhou underground uranium mine and mill, with a nominal capacity of 350 tonnes per year, began operating in 1966.

The project team will carry out three-dimensional exploration of the deep ore-forming environment of the Xiangshan mine field to reveal the uranium polymetallic resource ore-forming conditions and develop a 3000-metre-deep metallogenic information identification profile.

The company said the new drilling project will help scientists obtain more in-depth information about geological structures and uranium polymetallic mineralisation. "The technology can promote theoretical research in areas including the metallurgy of large hydrothermal uranium polymetallic ore, the limited depth of uranium mineralisation, the deep structures and the identification of geological bodies and important ore-forming elements in deep uranium mineralisation," according to CNNC. In addition, the project is expected to accelerate research into deep uranium mineralisation tracers, deep ore prospecting models and comprehensive prediction models.

CNNC also expects a series of technologies to be improved through the project. These include drilling technology, high-precision deep exploration technology and geophysical logging technology in wells under high-temperature and high-pressure environments.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News