Uranium is a chemical element that turns silvery-white when it is refined. It has an atomic number of 92 and is represented by the letter “U.”
Because of its unstable isotopes, the element is only slightly radioactive. Uranium is a weak electrical conductor, yet it is malleable, ductile, and electropositive.
Uranium metal, having a density of 19.1 g/cm3, interacts with most nonmetallic elements.
Uranium may also dissolve in hydrochloric and nitric acids, and when finely split, it can react with cold water.
When exposed to air, uranium oxide forms a protective coating on the metal. Uranium is mined as an ore in open pits, underground mines, and boreholes.
The ore is crushed into fine powders, which are subsequently leached to produce yellowcake as a product.
The World’s Top Uranium-Producing Countries
Kazakhstan is the world’s largest producer of uranium. It has 12 percent of the world’s uranium reserves. Kazakhstan’s uranium prospecting started in 1943, and the nation has been a source of uranium for the world’s nuclear projects ever since.
Kazakhstan has 17 uranium mines and 50 reserves scattered across six districts with an annual production capacity of thousands of tons.
The yearly output, however, has been set at 20,000 tons. The nation produced 23,127 tons in 2014, with plans to raise output to nearly 30,000 tons in 2015. The Ministry of Geology is in charge of uranium prospecting in the nation.
The exploration, on the other hand, started in 1942 in response to military needs. Canada now contributes 15% of global output, with a total of 9,134 tons produced in 2014. Northern Saskatchewan is home to Canada’s key uranium-producing regions.
The greatest uranium reserves in the nation are found in McArthur River, McLean Lake, and Rabbit Lake.
Explorations involving more than 40 businesses are still underway in many locations of Canada in order to boost uranium output.
Since 1954, uranium has been mined in Australia. Uranium contributes 20% of the country’s GDP, along with other minerals. Three uranium mines are now operational, with plans to establish additional mines in the future.
Australia’s uranium resources, on the other hand, make up one-third of the world’s total uranium resources. Australia produced 5,000 tons of uranium in 2014, ranking third in the world after Kazakhstan and Canada.
The country’s uranium is all for export, and the country’s nuclear power is based on coal. With 1200 people involved in mining and 500 in exploration, uranium is a key source of employment in the nation.
Top Uranium Producing Countries In The World
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Application And Hazards Of Uranium
In the military, uranium is employed in the production of ammunition. Because of its great impact and density, uranium ammo is capable of destroying strongly armored objects.
Depleted uranium is also employed in the production of military shielding materials for storing radioactive material.
Nuclear power is also made from uranium. For its commercial reactors, nuclear power plants employ uranium-enriched fuel.
Despite its many advantages, uranium is a hazardous element that impairs the functioning of important organs such as the kidney, heart, and liver.
Exposure to uranium and its decay products has the potential to cause death. Because uranium is pyrophoric, grains of uranium may spontaneously ignite.