Uranium is the element with the highest atomic weight of the periodic table. It is present in the nature in very low concentrations (a few parts per million) in rocks, soil and water. To be used uranium must be extracted and concentrated from minerals that contain it.
Uranium ore has traditionally been obtained in open or underground mines, while the most commonly used technique today is in situ leaching (ISL) or in situ recovery (ISR).
Leaching stage can be static or dynamic. ISL technique, is performed during the extraction phase. The resulting solution PLS (Pregnant leach solution) has a greater or lesser presence of solids depending upon the technique used to obtain and requires a clarification stage.
The next step is to refine and purify uranium dissolved in the aqueous medium using resins or organic solvents through ion exchange. Finally uranium salts are obtained by precipitation, usually with ammonia. Prior to packaging and sale, a drying process is made to remove moisture resulting in a concentrated powder with 80-85 wt% of U3O8.
Tecnium is regular supplier of uranium production plants using in situ leaching techniques (ILS) and has more than 150 pumps installed worldwide. In this technology, uranium is washed from the place where the ore is extracted by means of acidic or alkaline solutions injected into regularly spaced wells, and recovered from the leach solution in a surface plant.
Tecnium pumps are applied, usually in cases in which the leaching solution is based on sulfuric acid and precipitation is carried out with hydrogen peroxide.
Typical applications of Tecnium within this process are:
- H2SO4 transfer to the processing plant
- Feeding to the injection wells.
- Transfer of barren solutions from leaching process
- Transfer of PLS solutions to the filtering stage
- Transfer of resin solutions
- Pump for sand solution (Sand Pond pump)
- Thickeners feed
- NH4NO3 supply
- NH3 discharge pump.
- Transfer of acidic waste solutions
- Drainage pits on filtration steps
- Drainage pits on ion exchange areas
- Emergency pits on reagent storage area
- Emergency pits on elutions area
- Drainage pits on thickeners area