Canadian uranium mining company Uranium One, Argentina Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation, and private uranium exploration company UrAmerica Argentina S.A. have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the development of state-of-the-art uranium mining technologies in Argentina.
The MoU, which was signed in January in Moscow, Russia, confirms the interest of Argentina in the development of the most efficient technology applied to uranium production – in-situ recovery (ISR) – in partnership with Uranium One, as well as mutual cooperation in this field.
Uranium One, a wholly owned subsidiary of Rosatom, is the world’s fourth-largest uranium producer.
“The cooperation with Rosatom will raise uranium mining in the country to a new level. Argentina will strengthen its position as a nuclear technologies leader in the region, while the ISR projects will further promote industrial technology development and will increase and enhance cooperation between Argentina and Russia,” Argentina Science, Technology and Productive Innovation Minister Dr Lino Barañao said.
He added that this development embraces the concept of smart mining, which uses cutting edge technology, leading to efficient management of the productive process.
Uranium One president Vasily Konstantinov said the signing of the MoU opens new opportunities in Latin America for the company. “It lays the foundation for successful cooperation with our partners in Argentina, expanding the geography of the company’s uranium mining business.”
UrAmerica Argentina S.A. president Omar Adra added that he is proud that UrAmerica is part of the memorandum, which constitutes an important scientific advancement, for Argentina and its local nuclear development.
UrAmerica has focused its efforts on developing the properties it has successfully consolidated in the province of Chubut, in Argentina, surrounding known high-grade deposits and historical mines.
Unlike the traditional extraction method, which entails extracting ore from the subsoil, and shattering and processing it, uranium ore remains in place with ISR. Leaching reagent is pumped through the ore by means of a well system, followed by extraction of the uranium-containing solution to the surface, where it is subsequently processed to obtain the final product, yellow- cake or triuranium octoxide.
When using ISR, the surface remains almost intact, there are no tailings or waste rock and the groundwater condition restores to its initial state.
This method is also more economically efficient and environmentally preferable, compared with openpit or underground uranium mining methods.