Safety, Value and the Environment

Once a uranium deposit is considered economically feasible, it can still take many years before mining can begin.

Prior to mine construction, an environmental assessment is conducted. The environmental assessment process looks at all the ways a proposed mining operation could potentially affect local people and the environment.

Many studies are done to better understand and document the present condition of the land, water, and air. Surveys of local plants and animals are conducted, and land users are consulted to gain a better understanding of the local and downstream environments.

The process looks at all phases of the mine – construction, operation, and decommissioning – and predictions are made regarding the potential impact the project may have on people or the environment. If any risks are identified in this process, steps must be planned to mitigate these risks before construction ever begins. In addition, recommendations are made on the best ways to monitor the environment to ensure that the predicted outcomes from the assessment are confirmed through the life of the mining project.

Local community members and aboriginal groups are consulted, and any potential impact to the socio-economic condition or the rights of people and communities are considered.

In most developed countries, before any person or company can prepare a site for construction, operate, or decommission a uranium mine – or possess, use, transport or store uranium – they must first obtain necessary regulatory approvals. In Canada, beyond the required provincial approvals, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) grants licences for a uranium mine.

One ton of natural uranium can produce more than 40 million kilowatt-hours of electricity. This is equivalent to burning 16,000 tons of coal or 80,000 barrels of oil.