Survey of Energy Resources 2007
Uranium Country Notes
Uranium exploration has been undertaken since 1944. Over a hundred ore-bearing deposits have been located in 14 districts of the Federation: the Streltsovsk district, where underground mining takes place, the Transural and Vitim districts, where the deposits are suitable for in-situ leaching (ISL), and 11 other districts, where higher-cost resources have been discovered. Government funding for uranium exploration more than doubled in 2005, with the object of stepping-up the search for sandstone-type deposits suitable for the application of ISL technology, as well as for rich unconformity-type deposits suitable for mining.
Mining and processing of uranium ore started in 1951 in the Stavropolsky region of European Russia, a source which had been exhausted by the late 1980s, after producing 5 685 tonnes, of which underground mining accounted for 69% and various leaching techniques for the balance. Between 1968 and 1980, the Sanarskoye deposit in the Transural district produced 440 tonnes of uranium, using ISL technology.
For more than a decade, the most important uranium producing area has been the Streltsovsk region near Krasnokamensk in the Chitinskaya Oblast of eastern Siberia. The state concern responsible for production in the Krasnokamensk area is the Priargunsky Mining-Chemical Production Association; its production centre has a nominal production capacity of 3 500 tU per annum. Priargunsky accounts for more than 90% of national production. Lower-concentration deposits at the mine are increasingly exploited via block and heap leaching.
In 2002, the Dalur production centre in the Kurgan region started commercial ISL extraction from the Dalmatovskoe deposit. By 2010, it is planned that additional ISL sites at this deposit and at Khokhlovskoe will increase Dalur's annual output to 750 tU. Another production centre, with a nominal output capacity of 1 000 tU per annum, is planned for the Khiagda deposit in the Vitim district of the Buryat Republic.
Total national output in 2005 was 3 431 tU, most of which was derived from ore obtained by underground mining, the balance being obtained from low-grade ore by heap- or in-place leaching. The Russian Federation was the world's fourth largest producer of uranium in 2005, accounting for 8.2% of global output.
Its RAR (estimated to be recoverable at up to US$ 80/kgU) of 131 750 tonnes represented 5.0% of the global total at the beginning of 2005. The balance of Identified Resources recoverable at less than US$ 80/kgU consisted of 40 652 tonnes of IR. Undiscovered resources (in situ) at up to US$ 130/kgU are estimated to be exceedingly large: nearly 105 000 tonnes of PR (over half of which is reckoned to be recoverable at less than US$ 80/kgU), plus 545 000 tonnes of SR.