Cooperation strengthens mining radiation protection

12 June 2018

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) are to work together to enhance radiation protection of workers in the uranium mining and processing industries under a new cooperation agreement.

Larsson (on the left) and Pinak pictured at the signing of the agreement in Melbourne (Image: IAEA)

The agreement between the two organisations outlines plans to address potential harm that could be caused by the higher concentrations of naturally occurring radioactive materials - or NORM - that can result from the processing and handling of raw materials.

The activity concentrations of the radionuclides in rocks and soil found in nature are generally low, but some minerals, including commercially exploited ones, may contain radionuclides of uranium, thorium or potassium at elevated concentrations. Human activities such as mining and ore processing can significantly increase the concentration of NORM radionuclides, which may require radiation control and regulation.

ARPANSA CEO Carl-Magnus Larsson and IAEA Head of Radiation Safety and Monitoring Miroslav Pinak on 24 May signed practical arrangements building on an earlier agreement under which work was conducted to create a publication on occupational radiation protection approaches in uranium mining and processing stages and techniques, as a part of the IAEA Safety Report Series. That report was developed during meetings in Australia, Canada and South Africa involving regulatory body and industry representatives.

Cooperation under the new three-year agreement is expected to provide practical tools for regulators, mine operators and workers through a training package that supports the use of the report's recommendations. The agreement will also see ARPANSA help the IAEA strengthen its global survey of information on occupational radiation protection in uranium mining (UMEX), which aims to improve protection and safety through sharing of good practices and other information.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News