Uranium mineral development can be quite the process with several moving parts. Generally, though, the mineral development process usually begins when prospectors and explorers find an area of possible mineralization.
Prospectors use aerial surveys to look for uranium mineralization, and if an area presents a good opportunity for a discovery, a smaller group of explorers will begin ground-level exploration. However, the actual mineral development process may consist of several stages.
These stages may include finding the mineralization, installing an exploration camp, drilling by air or ground, and extracting the uranium. Once the ore has been removed, it must be processed.
Before understanding the stages, it’s important to take a look into the integral parts of its mineral development process. Continue reading to learn more.
Several factors have to be considered before developing a new area. It can take years to find the right location and years more to extract the ore. So, before beginning the uranium mineral development process, it’s important to be sure that the site will likely prove a good ore source. This brings us to the mineral reserve and resources.
A mineral reserve is an ore body estimated to contain economically recoverable uranium, categorized as mineable. In other words, a mineral reserve is an ore that can be taken profitably from a location. The mineral resource is the total amount of a mineral that is thought to be present where the mineral is not necessarily recoverable.
Here are two kinds of mineral reserves:
- Probable Mineral Reserve
A probable mineral reserve is estimated to have at least a 50% likelihood of containing the indicated mineral grade. Additional exploration will likely be required to determine final recovery estimates.
- Proven Mineral Reserve
A proved mineral reserve is an ore with a 90% or greater likelihood of containing the indicated mineral grade. Just like with probable mineral reserves, additional exploration will be required to determine final estimates.
A mineral resource is an ore that can be extracted with more technical certainty than a mineral reserve. That is, if a mineral reserve estimates 50% certainty, then a mineral resource with a greater chance of being 90% or greater. A mineral resource typically stems from a great mineral reserve but may not be mineable.
Here are three types of mineral resources:
- Inferred Mineral Resource
Inferred mineral resource means the mineral in the ore is thought to be economically extractable, but further sampling and field investigation is needed. This is because additional exploration is required to verify the mineral quantity and grade.
- Indicated Mineral Resource
Indicated mineral resources are supported by small-scale sampling and field investigation and are found to have a high probability of recovery. Its grade and quantity are thought to be relatively accurately determined.
- Measured Mineral Resource
A measured mineral resource is also supported by small-scale sampling and field investigation and is found to have a significant chance of recovery. It’s deemed to have considerable economic feasibility for extraction in comparison to the two.
The mineral development process for uranium ore can extend for several years, but it’s critical to be sure that the ore body is worth mining. To do so, a geological survey must be conducted to verify the amount and quality of the ore.
Want to learn more about uranium mining projects? enCore Energy Corp. is a U.S. domestic uranium developer focused on becoming a leading in-situ recovery uranium producer. Contact us today.