Publicatie Laka-bibliotheek:
Best Practice in Environmental Management of Uranium Mining. report NF-T-1.2


Uit de publicatie:

VIENNA, 2010

The modern uranium mining industry was born in the middle of the 20th century at a 
time of rapid industrial and social change and in an atmosphere of concern over the 
development of nuclear weapons. At many uranium mining operations, the need to produce 
uranium far outweighed the need to ensure that there were any more than vestigial 
efforts made in protecting the workers, the public and the environment from the 
impacts of the mining, both radiological and non-radiological. In the last quarter 
of the 20th century, the world began to take greater care of the total environment 
with the introduction of legislation and the development of operating procedures that took
environmental protection into account. The uranium mining industry was part of 
this change, and standards of environmental management began to become of significance 
in corporate planning strategies. However, by the 1980s, as uranium mining companies 
began to address the issues of environment protection, the industry began to suffer a 
cyclical slowdown. By the 1990s, the industry was at a nadir, but the surviving uranium 
producers continued to develop and implement a series of procedures in environmental 
management that were regarded as best practices. This, in part, was necessary as a means 
to demonstrate to the regulators, governments and the public that the mining operations 
 were being run with the intention of minimizing adverse impacts on the workers, people 
 and the environment. This ensured that mining would be allowed to continue.
The decline in uranium mining activity bottomed out in the 1990s, but a resurgence 
of activity began in the new century that is likely to continue for some time. This 
has been, in part, due to market conditions and concerns about the shortfall of current 
production from primary sources (uranium mines) against current reactor fuel demands; 
the anticipated decrease in future availability of secondary sources such as stockpiles; 
and the increased interest in nuclear power generation as an integral part of the 
strategy of many countries to mitigate their impacts on climate change.
The existing uranium mining industry has raised environmental standards through the 
introduction and development of best practices. One concern is that some of the newer, 
junior, mining companies and producer nations entering the market in the present 
expansion phase may not be aware of these best practices and current international standards. 
Failure to maintain the current high levels of environmental management may see the uranium 
mining industry’s development hampered through the poor performance of a few new,  but 
inexperienced companies, which would result in adverse reactions from the pubic and 
regulating authorities. This could be especially damaging to the straightforward development 
of the new resources demanded by the market. As part of a strategy to assist in the maintenance 
of standards in uranium mining and to assist in the dissemination of information on best 
practices, the IAEA assisted in the organization of a Technical Meeting on Best Practices 
in Environmental Management of Uranium Production Facilities, in Saskatoon, Canada, from 
22 to 25 June 2004. 
This report contains the papers presented at that meeting, and the conclusions reached in 
discussions, together with an overall guide to what is best practice in modern uranium mining.