What is Uranium
Wyoming is home to the largest known uranium ore reserves in the United States. The state also ranks No. 1 in uranium production, accounting for more than half (2.5 million tons)
of all the uranium produced in the nation in 2013. Wyoming has benefitted economically from the uranium industry through an influx of jobs, tax revenues, and overall economic growth.
Uranium is a highly valued energy resource found in numerous minerals, and with major occurrences in Wyoming. Since the 1940s the heavy metal has been used as a strategic military
commodity and for nuclear power generation. Uranium is an important energy resource because a small quantity can produce a large amount of energy with relatively low greenhouse gas emissions.
Worldwide, the use of uranium for electrical generation has expanded and is expected to continue as demand for electricity increases. Because of the demand in this global commodity and its
reserves, Wyoming is likely to benefit from an increase in the state's production. There are currently four active mining operations in Wyoming (three in the Powder River Basin and one in the
Great Divide Basin). There are also more than 20 new projects in various stages of regulatory review.
Wyoming began commercially mining uranium in the 1950s and has since produced nearly a quarter of a billion pounds of uranium concentrate (U33O8), also known as yellowcake.
Uranium can be found in numerous minerals and occurs nearly everywhere on the planet even in seawater. Its radioactive properties were utilized in making the world’s first nuclear weapons,
which brought an end to World War II. Since then, an entire industry has been built around its mining, processing and utilization, with Wyoming playing a major role in the industry when it
comes to mining the ore.
Uranium ore deposits occur in many of Wyoming's sedimentary basins, with smaller occurrences found throughout the state. Uranium is usually found in porous sedimentary rocks such as sandstones,
arkoses, or conglomerates, but some large deposits are also associated with igneous and metamorphic rocks.
- Symbol – U
- Atomic number – 92 (number of protons in the nucleus)
- Atomic weight – 238.3 atomic mass units
- Density – 19.05 grams per cubic centimeter (g/cm3)
- Group name – Actinide (belonging to the Actinium series)
- Global abundance - (estimated)
- Crustal rocks – 1.8 ppm by weight (parts per million (ppm))
- Sea water – 3.3 ppm
- Human body (average) – 1 ppm
- *10,000 ppm = 1 percent; 1.8 ppm = 0.00018 percent
Common Uranium Ore Minerals
- Autunite – Ca(UO2)(PO4)2▪10-12(H2O)
- Carnotite – K2(UO2)2(VO)4▪3(H2O)
- Coffinite – USiO4
- Tyuyamunite – Ca(UO2)2(VO4)2▪5-8H2O
- Uraninite – UO2
- Uranophane – Ca(UO2)2SiO3(OH)2▪5(H2O)
Recent Uranium Publications
“Nuclear power is becoming more attractive as an energy source
because it is clean and over the long run, may be more reliable than other fossil fuel
resources,” says Bob Gregory, WSGS geologist.
Bob Gregory (307) 766-2286 Ext. 237