The United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says an increasing number of countries are investing more in uranium exploration in the wake of growing demand from a nuclear power “renaissance” and the resulting surge in nuclear fuel prices.
In the midst of this development, the Vienna-based Agency is facilitating the transfer of information and knowledge from States with extensive experience in uranium mining and production to ‘newcomers’ to the sector, according to its website.
It has a number of initiatives designed to help the uranium industry share best practices, train a new generation of experts and comply with IAEA safety standards to ensure the protection of people and the environment.
“The IAEA has been and will continue to be very active in the future to promote the safe, responsible development of uranium resources,” IAEA waste safety specialist Russel Edge ,a href="http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenterNews/2008/cleanuranium.html">says.
The Agency stresses the importance of promoting good practices in all phases of uranium production, particularly for mitigating the environmental impact of mining and reducing future remediation costs of uranium mining sites.
“In uranium mining, prevention is better and cheaper than the cure, although it could appear to be costly at the beginning,” notes the IAEA’s Jan Slezak, a uranium resource specialist.
The IAEA’s initiatives include helping member States in Africa, Central Asia and Latin America to deal with the engineering, financial, legal and social aspects of uranium mining, as well as promoting its Uranium Production Site Appraisal Team (UPSAT) programme for peer-review of mining operations.
As part of its efforts, the Agency will host the International Symposium on Uranium Raw Material for the Nuclear Fuel Cycle (URAM-2009) in Vienna from 22 to 26 June. The meeting will look at issues ranging from exploration and mining to economics and environmental issues.