Survey of Energy Resources 2007
Uranium - Definitions
Uranium does not occur in a free metallic state in nature. It is a highly reactive metal that interacts readily with non-metals, and is an element in many intermetallic compounds.
This Survey uses the system of ore classification developed by the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Estimates are divided into separate categories according to different levels of confidence in the quantities reported.
The estimates are further separated into categories based on the cost of uranium recovered at ore-processing plants. The cost categories are: less than US$ 40/kgU; US$ 40/kgU to US$ 80/kgU and US$ 80/kgU to US$ 130/kgU. Costs include the direct costs of mining, transporting and processing uranium ore, the associated costs of environmental and waste management, and the general costs associated with running the operation (as defined by the NEA). The resource data quoted in the present Survey reflect those published in the 2005 'Red Book'. Cost categories are expressed in terms of the US dollar as at 1 January 2005.
The WEC follows the practice of the NEA/IAEA and defines estimates of discovered reserves in terms of uranium recoverable from mineable ore and not uranium contained in the ore (i.e. to allow for mining and processing losses). Although some countries continue to report in-situ quantities, the major producers generally conform to these definitions.
All resource estimates are expressed in terms of tonnes of recoverable uranium (U), not uranium oxide (U3O8).
1 tonne of uranium = approximately 1.3 short tons of uranium oxide;
US$ 1 per pound of uranium oxide =
US$ 2.60 per kilogram of uranium;
1 short ton U3O8 = 0.769 tU.
Proved reserves correspond to the NEA category 'Reasonably Assured Resources' (RAR), and refer to recoverable uranium that occurs in known mineral deposits of delineated size, grade and configuration such that the quantities which could be recovered within the given production cost ranges with currently proven mining and processing technology can be specified. Estimates of tonnage and grade are based on specific sample data and measurements of the deposits and on knowledge of deposit characteristics. Proved reserves have a high assurance of existence.
Inferred Resources refers to recoverable uranium (in addition to proved reserves) that is inferred to occur, based on direct geological evidence, in extensions of well-explored deposits and in deposits in which geological continuity has been established, but where specific data and measurements of the deposits and knowledge of their characteristics are considered to be inadequate to classify the resource as a proved reserve.
Undiscovered Resources refers to uranium in addition to proved reserves and inferred resources and covers the two NEA categories, 'Prognosticated Resources' (PR) and 'Speculative Resources' (SR). PR refer to deposits for which the evidence is mainly indirect and which are believed to exist in well-defined geological trends or areas of mineralisation with known deposits. SR refers to uranium that is thought to exist mostly on the basis of indirect evidence and geological extrapolations in deposits discoverable with existing exploration techniques.
Annual production is the production output of uranium ore concentrate from indigenous deposits, expressed as tonnes of uranium.
Cumulative production is the total cumulative production output of uranium ore concentrate from indigenous deposits, expressed as tonnes of uranium, produced in the period from the initiation of production until the end of the year stated.