Uranium and Thorium

Uranium is never found freely in nature. Uranium minerals appear when various elements come together.

There are hundreds of uranium minerals in the earth’s crust, but the large majority of these do not contain uranium at economic levels. The minerals that contain exploitable amounts of uranium are autunite, pitchblende (uraninite), coffinite and torbernite.

For today, uranium and thorium are within the scope of the raw materials of nuclear energy. However, due to the fact that economic nuclear plants based on thorium have yet to become operational, so thorium is currently waiting its turn.

The world’s uranium sources are classified as proven and possible reserves according to their varied production costs. Today, uranium is produced generally from the proven reserves for 80 US Dollars per kilogram. There are 2,60 million tonnes of proven deposits of uranium in the world.

In Turkey, the search for uranium continued until the end of 1990, and a total of 9.129 tonnes of proven uranium reserves were found in five different fields. The average grade and reserves of these were within the accepted economic limits during the years they were discovered. But today, these values are considerably lower than these limits. The reason for this is the significant changes in the planning of nuclear plants in recent years, and in particular the fact that high grade uranium fields, with very low production costs, have been found in Canada and Australia.

In Turkey, as a result of the endeavours carried out by the General Directorate of Mineral Research and Exploration in previous years, 380.000 tonnes of visible reserves with an average grade of 0.2% ThO2 were detected in a complex ore field containing rare soil elements and thorium, in Eskişehir - Sivrihisar - Kızılcaören. However, the technological issues related to the enriching of the thorium in the said field have yet to be fully resolved.

 

The details presented here have been prepared with the aim of informing the users of the website of our Ministry, and do not possess the characteristics of official binding documents.