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Seeking Information on the Orkney Uranium Deposit

  1. Apr 8, 2017 #1
    Apparently there is a major uranium deposit at Orkney in the United Kingdom that might also be very high grade (the article seems to indicate it is 50.2% grade, which would be even higher grade than Canada's deposits). I've found a lot of information on the controversy surrounding potential development of the site, but I haven't been able to find anything about the grade and size of the deposit. Does anyone know where I can find more information on it?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 8, 2017 #2


    Staff: Mentor

  4. Apr 8, 2017 #3


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    The UK explored the area for uranium and found substantial low grade ores in the Orkneys.

    http://www.emgs.org.uk/files/mercia... p262 Mineral exploration Britain, Colman.pdf

    The uranium contents were very low, a few hundred ppm, with thorium and such in similar amounts.
    I would assume that the 50.2% grade mentioned in the OP was referring to the uranium fraction of the total fissile materials content, which was well under 1% of the ore.
    The Orkney deposit appears to extend into Norway, where deposits are of similar quality.

  5. Apr 8, 2017 #4


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    Orkney uranium and the planning process

    Aberdeen Univ. (UK)
    There is some information in this publication by the British Geological Survey (2008). See page 17 of 23.

    Apparently Rio Tinto Zinc (RTZ) with BGS did some prospecting near Stromness and determined that the ore was not economically interesting. The BGS found lead in the U ore.

  6. Apr 8, 2017 #5
    Uranium is not really that rare.
    Extracting then transporting it from a long offshore island to somewhere able to process it is probably not very economical.
  7. Apr 9, 2017 #6
    The first link states that sporadic higher concentrations of fissile materials were found in fish remains off the Orcadian Basin, up to 0.3% uranium and 0.5% thorium. Fish would accumulate such materials due to bioaccumulation, but those levels are one million times higher than the 3 parts per billion concentration typically found in seawater. What might be causing such high uranium and thorium concentrations in fish? Might the water off the Orkneys be unusually rich in uranium and thorium?
  8. Apr 9, 2017 #7


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    The fish remains reference is puzzling. One would not expect to find fish remains in a borehole unless fossilized.
    Afaik, neither uranium nor thorium are preferentially absorbed by the body nor are they calcium substitutes that get stored in the skeleton..
    So a fish remains would not be expected to have unusual uranium content, which would suggest the matrix of material in which the remains were found contained the uranium.
    I consequently don't see this evidence as making the case for an unusually rich source in the area.

    It may be relevant to note that the Irish sea is the most radioactive part of the Atlantic waters apart from some patches of the Baltic. So present day fish in the region may well have abnormally high radioactivity burdens, reflecting plutonium and related fuel reprocessing wastes dumped from Sellafield. I don't know if that facility was running back when this survey was performed.
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