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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 56 (1972)

Issue: 3. (March)

First Page: 606

Last Page: 607

Title: Exploration and Development of Uranium Reserves: ABSTRACT

Author(s): W. F. Bunker

Article Type: Meeting abstract


Nuclear fuel consumption in the United States is dependent on the demand for electrical energy. Domestic electric-power-generating capacity is growing at an annual rate of 7-8%. The nuclear power growth rate will be substantially higher if nuclear energy is to become the major fuel source for electric power generation by the end of this century.

Proved and potential domestic uranium reserves are sufficient to fill the anticipated demand for nuclear fuel through 1980. Beyond that point new reserves must be brought into production at an increasing rate, with new reserves of 175,000 tons required for the period from 1981-1985. New production facilities for these reserves must be committed beginning in 1976. The first discoveries of new uranium reserves in the United States must be made in 1972, and the entire 175,000 tons should be proved before the end of the decade.

The cost of exploration to assure the new reserves required in the 1981-1985 period is estimated to be $315 million or about $79 million annually. This is in addition to the expenditures required to bring over 100,000 tons, now carried as potential reserves, into the proved category. The problem now facing the domestic uranium industry is how to meet the demands of the late 1970s and 1980s through investments which must be made today. The large expenditures required for exploration and expanded production capacity cannot be made from current below-replacement-cost uranium sales. The reserves required to support the needed expansion of the nuclear power industry will be assured when there is sufficient incentive established through long-term purchase agreements at realistic prices.

The annual discovery requirement needed for a 10-year forward reserve quickly reaches 100,000 tons/year beyond 1980. This means that a district equivalent in size to Ambrosia Lake, New Mexico, the largest in the United States, must be discovered every other year. Far more exploration than presently is contemplated must be performed in the vicinity of established districts and increased emphasis must be placed on the discovery of uranium in environments not presently recognized.

Large sums of money for exploration must be committed

End_Page 606------------------------------

in the near future to meet the demands of the nuclear power industry.

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Copyright 1997 American Association of Petroleum Geologists