Uranium mine progress in Namibia and Thorium progress in Norway

1. World Nuclear News – the Husab mine project in Namibia is now set to start. It is expected to take 34 months to construct the mine, with uranium production slated to begin sometime in the third quarter of 2015. The operation will be an open pit mine with an acid leach process plant on site. Swakop describes the Husab ore-body as being the third largest uranium-only deopsit in the world. With measured and indicated reserves of about 140,000 tonnes U, it is expected to operate for at least 20 years with an output of approximately 7000 tonnes U3O8 per annum.

2. Smart Planet – A privately held Norwegian company (Thor Energy) will start burning thorium fuel in a conventional test reactor owned by Norway’s government with help from U.S.-based nuclear giant Westinghouse, the company revealed here recently.

The Halden Boiling Water Reactor (HBWR) is a versatile tool for nuclear fuels and materials investigations:

More than 300 positions individually accessible
About 110 positions in central core
About 30 positions for experimental purposes(any of 110/300)
Height of active core 80 cm
Usable length within moderator about 160 cm
Experimental channel Ø:- 70 mm in HBWR moderator- 35-45 mm in pressure flask
Loop systems for simulation of BWR/PWR conditions

The four-year test at Norway’s government owned Halden reactor could help thorium inch closer to replacing uranium as a possible safer and more effective nuclear power source. Many people believe that thorium is superior because it leaves less long- lived dangerous waste, makes it far more difficult to fashion bombs, runs more efficiently, and can be made meltdown proof.

Oslo-based Thor Energy will deploy a mix of solid thorium mixed with plutonium – a blend known as “thorium MOX” – Thor’s chief technology officer Julian Kelly told the Thorium Energy Conference 2012.

Thor is testing the thorium fuel in a conventional reactor at Halden cooled by “heavy water” – water that contains an isotope of hydrogen called deuterium. (Although Halden is typically described as a “test reactor,” it also provides steam to a nearby paper mill).

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