Seeking Information on the Orkney Uranium Deposit

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

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?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
11,261
4,728
  • #3
etudiant
Gold Member
1,189
110
The UK explored the area for uranium and found substantial low grade ores in the Orkneys.

http://www.emgs.org.uk/files/mercian_vol13on/Mercian Geologist volume 17 2008-2011/Mercian 2011 v17 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.

http://www.ngu.no/FileArchive/NGUPublikasjoner/NGUnr_380_Bulletin_70_Lindahl_125_142.pdf
 
  • #4
Astronuc
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
18,703
1,710
Orkney uranium and the planning process

https://inis.iaea.org/search/searchsinglerecord.aspx?recordsFor=SingleRecord&RN=12593037
Aberdeen Univ. (UK)
Recent events in the Orkney islands provide an interesting case study of some of the problems of processing energy developments within the framework of the planning system. The development in question was a proposal by the South of Scotland Electricity Board (SSEB) in December 1976 to carry out exploratory drilling in three areas to the north of Stromness to establish the extent of uranium deposits. Planning permission for the development was refused by the Orkney Islands Council (OIC) in March 1977. The decision was based on a policy formulated by the OIC (following receipt of the planning application) which prohibits the exploitation of uranium in the Orkney Islands. The policy was included in the Council's Structure Plan which was subsequently submitted to the Secretary of State for Scotland for confirmation and was one of three issues selected by him for examination in public in March 1979. Three matters have been selected for particular study:-(1) the manner in which the planning application was dealt with by the OIC; (2) the formulation of the policy statement prohibiting the exploitation of uranium; and (3) the procedure for the examination in public.
There is some information in this publication by the British Geological Survey (2008). See page 17 of 23.
https://www.bgs.ac.uk/downloads/start.cfm?id=1409

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.

 
  • #5
3,379
942
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.
 
  • #6
The UK explored the area for uranium and found substantial low grade ores in the Orkneys.

http://www.emgs.org.uk/files/mercian_vol13on/Mercian Geologist volume 17 2008-2011/Mercian 2011 v17 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.

http://www.ngu.no/FileArchive/NGUPublikasjoner/NGUnr_380_Bulletin_70_Lindahl_125_142.pdf
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?
 
  • #7
etudiant
Gold Member
1,189
110
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.
 

Related Threads for: Seeking Information on the Orkney Uranium Deposit

Replies
1
Views
775
  • Last Post
Replies
7
Views
10K
  • Last Post
6
Replies
127
Views
21K
  • Last Post
Replies
11
Views
7K
  • Last Post
Replies
7
Views
4K
  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
11
Views
28K
  • Last Post
Replies
7
Views
8K
Top