It is now generally accepted that nuclear power will become an increasingly vital part of the world's energy provision, specifically that of electricity. Proposed expansion of uranium production in Russia means that it is likely that 45% of the uranium nuclear fuel used in the world will by 2030 come from Russia and its environs - a very strong card to throw on the table in the unfolding game of "new world order", which is underpinned utterly by resources, especially those of energy.
The terms "energy" and "electricity" are often but incorrectly used synonymously. Only a proportion of total energy is used in the form of electricity, in the U.K. about one fifth; roughly 40% of the rest comes from oil used almost entirely to fuel transportation, and the remainder is thermal energy to heat buildings and run industry, more of which could in principle be provided via electricity if generating capacity can be expanded. The U.K. seems set to maintain gas-fired electricity output, even though there are issues over just how much gas we will be able to import in competition with other nations in Europe, and switching-over to more nuclear power from gas-technology will not be easy.
Last year, Russia overtook Niger to become the fourth largest producer of uranium, following Canada, Australia and Kazakhstan, with an output of 3,527 tons. There are however plans to recover much more uranium from deposits in Eastern Siberia and other regions and through deals with other uranium producing countries: Canada and Kazakhstan already have cooperative arrangements in place and there are explorations ongoing in Mongolia which it is thought may have the greatest uranium resources of any nation.
In the far-eastern Russian Chita Region lies the city of Krasnokamensk, home to the Priargun "mining and dressing" plant, which produces a massive 93% of Russia's uranium. The proven reserve there is 150,000 tons and another 7% is produced by underground leaching (a much cheaper process than conventional mining) in Dalur (Kurgan Region) and the Republic of Buryatia (Khiagda). In total these deposits are sufficient to meet home-demand only and so, if Russia is to become a major exporter and controller of the world uranium market, it has to yield more from elsewhere.
Additionally, Russia must provide uranium for soviet-built nuclear plants (e..g Metsamor in the Republic of Armenia and Kozloduy in Bulgaria) abroad, along with meeting contracts for uranium-enrichment and the overall result is a deficit of around 6000 tons a year of uranium. This shortfall from "new" resources is made-up by reprocessing uranium from nuclear weapons and "depleted uranium tails" which are deposits of ore that are used twice. However, these "secondary reserves" will be used-up in 10 - 15 years and so more actual "new" production is unequivocal.
In this regard, the Rosatom uranium monopoly, Atomredmetzoloto, intends to up its production to 3,880 tons (up 10% on 2007) and to increase this to 20,000 tons by 2024. As noted in the context of oil, it is the rate of supply (the "tap") that matters more than the size of the reserve (the "tank"). Russia has a very large tank of uranium, holding around 564,000 tons if the deposits at Elkon of 344,000 tons is included. Elkon is located on the banks of the River Aldan in Yakutia in the north of the Republic of Sakha, and the uranium ore is buried deep underground in a bank of permafrost and so digging it out will not be all that easy.
I wonder too, whether there will be disturbances of methane hydrate, releasing methane into the atmosphere in the process. The Argentines are measuring the gas-output from the arses of cattle at the moment which they fear might be causing 30% of Argentina's methane global-warming gas emissions, but what in comparison could mining Siberian permafrost turn-up?
All in all, experts have reckoned that Russia could produce 45% of the world's uranium by 2030, which, if nuclear power becomes as important as some think in the fight to wean the world off fossil-fuel, will place them centre-stage in world affairs.
"Russia's uranium breakthrough." By (RIA Novosti commentator) Tatyana Sinitsyna http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20080708/113538769-print.html.