Orano Mining
Corporate Social Responsibility
Report 2017
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Radiation protection

Preventive actions to limit the exposure time and level of workers

The goal: major preventive maintenance actions planned and carried out on industrial sites have made it possible to make operations run more smoothly whilst considerably reducing the number of repair interventions that have to be carried out, with a beneficial impact on the radiation protection of those performing interventions.

Major three-yearly maintenance program carried out in 2016 on activities 400 and 500 at the plant:

Maintenance of the calciner

Maintenance of the crystallizer

Renovation of the calciner building at 9 m and 11 m levels to improve the surface of the floors

These continuous improvement actions highlight the value of the principle of optimization.

Quick change pumps, an innovation to serve radiation protection and occupational

The goal: introducing standardized pumps in the ore pulp reception and storage areas has made it possible to considerably shorten maintenance times, for the benefit of the health and safety of workers.

Reduced maintenance times

Four hours: that's the length of time that maintenance operators used to spend in the ore pulp reception and storage areas of the McClean Lake mill, when they carried out inspection and repair work on the different pumps. This is a long period of time, because the uranium content of the ore processed at the mill exposes them to around 0.3 mSv* during that period. To reduce the impact of these operations on the operators, the maintenance teams have displayed their innovation by establishing a single model of pump. The innovation has proven to be a genuine industrial success, with operation times falling to around 10 minutes per operation, representing a 96% reduction in exposure of the workers.

Ergonomics completely rethought

The main advantage of these new pumps: their ergonomics. The quick removal system eliminates manual handling operations and enables the use of an electrical device to move the pumps into the maintenance workshop. Injuries and back pain are reduced considerably. Today, operators can replace standardized and interchangeable equipment quickly and safely.

* The Sievert (Sv) is a unit used in radiation protection which is expressed in "equivalent dose" and takes into account the characteristics both of the radiation and of the irradiated organism. On average, the annual exposure of a member of the public in France is 4.5 mSv.

Occupational safety

Introduction and deployment of the DRILLING STANDARD

The goal: ensure that common safety rules are applied for drilling activities in order to avoid accidents

12 safety standards are applicable on all sites belonging to Orano or operated under the direct responsibility of Orano.

Here, a safety standard is understood to be a safety rule for international use, that is simple, clear, not open to interpretation and mandatory, in compliance with local legislations.

Based on this same principle, in 2016, in addition to the 12 Orano standards already in place, Orano Mining deployed a standard specific to its own activity: The drilling standard.

As for the other standards, this means that this standard was brought to the knowledge of every employee of Orano Mining and more specifically of all those who are called upon to be involved in this activity during the course of their professional and functional duties.

What is drilling?

Drilling is the action of digging a "well" into the ground up to depths which can sometimes be very considerable.

The equipment of the well, such as the tubing, and the technical resources used for digging, more generally, vary depending on the size and objectives of the well.

In Orano Mining's activities, we drill in order to:

  • prospect and reconnoiter the sub-soil,
  • sink hydraulic and piezometric wells,
  • allow the aeration of galleries in underground mines,
  • extract ore.

Why a Drilling standard?

The analysis of accident data from previous years showed that drilling is an activity which generates accidents. It was thus essential to harmonize best practices in this area and to share them with all sites where Orano Mining is operator.

Based on the operating feedback provided from the teams in Kazakhstan and supplemented by operating feedback from our teams on other sites, a standard was drawn up and validated by the Drilling Experts from Orano Mining and the HSE teams.

This drilling standard was then deployed for all employees who have any form of interaction whatsoever with this activity.

This standard brings together different points to which attention must be paid sorted into 6 main families:

This standard applies to everyone even if it is accompanied by a Check List specific to each site. There may after all be specifications specific to different drilling machines depending on the manufacturer, and these characteristics may mean a specific inspection is required.

To make an analogy with the field of aviation, this means that, whatever the type of aircraft, it is essential to verify that the Check List has been completed prior to take-off. However, the Check List may differ depending on the type of aircraft. The same goes for drilling machines.

Of course, not all the rules and procedures of occupational safety can be replaced by safety standards, but with the drilling standard, the best practices have been formally defined in this safety standard that Orano Mining is deploying and rendering applicable to all of its employees.

Safety & Environment Drilling Standard

Safety culture training

The goal: to develop a safety culture among Orano field managers to move towards achieving the objective of "zero accidents".

In 2017, Orano Mining deployed a safety training program with a particular focus on field managers in order to:

It is more than just training, it is an initiative that aims to bring about an effective, pragmatic and lasting improvement in our Safety Culture.

The scope extends to all ORANO Mining's sites (operation and exploration sites), with planned deployment over a 3-year period:

  • In 2017, the sites of SOMAIR, KATCO and Orano Mining Niger received training;
  • In 2018, it will be the turn of the ORANO INC CANADA, COMINAK and Bessines sites;
  • In 2019, our site in Mongolia will also complete this training program.
Security formation at SOMAÏR

The deployment will involve the following phases:

Déploiement au Niger en 2017 Deployment in Niger in 2017

Environment and biodiversity

Mongolia: Biodiversity offset project

The goal: to take measures to protect biodiversity.

As part of the preparation of the Zuuvch Ovoo ISR pilot site, the Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA), conducted in 2015, confirmed that the only species that could be affected in a major way by our works is the saxaul, one of the most important vegetation features of the steppe.

The Zuuvch Ovoo pilot project will not be located in an area where there is a high density of saxauls. Nevertheless, it is inevitable that a certain number of trees will have to be destroyed in order to complete the activities involved in the construction and operation of the Pilot.

The impact reduction measures adopted in the DEIA and implemented by Badrakh Energy LLC are as follows:

  • The majority of the facilities will be built outside areas with a high density of saxauls to avoid having to remove them as much as possible;
  • The drills and other machinery will be installed, to the extent that it is possible to do so, in areas where the vegetation is sparse to avoid any damage to vegetation and to the saxauls to the maximum extent possible;
  • Impacts on vegetation during the course of the works, as well as the transport of equipment, mud and personnel will be minimized;
  • Rules for the management of tracks will be established;
  • A program to offset the impact on biodiversity by the plantation of young seedlings will be implemented.
Jeunes pousses de saxauls en pépinière Young saxaul seedlings in a plant nursery

The main ecological offset systems identified by the BBOP (Business and Biodiversity Offset Program), which we use as a guide in terms of the best practices to follow, are:

In the case of the Zuuvch Ovoo ISR test, Badrakh Energy has opted for one-off offsetting. Accordingly:

In this way, in order to create a positive societal and environmental dynamic, the stakeholders will be encouraged to take part in this offsetting process, as the works will be carried out by local companies and by professionals who are specialists in biodiversity offsetting and the re-plantation of trees in arid regions.

PETRUS: project to manage solid and liquid discharges resulting from the processing of uranium at SOMAÏR in Niger

The goal: to increase SOMAÏR's processing tailings storage capacities.

The processing of uranium generates large quantities of solid and liquid discharges. SOMAÏR found itself faced with a lack of storage capacity which risked affecting production.

The PETRUS (PErennisation du Traitement des Rejets USine, or sustainable processing of plant discharges) project was launched in 2014 to find new capacities for the storage of processing tailings.

After several years of studies and various works being carried out, the project has finally arrived at the following solutions:

Le bassin 11 achevé, prêt à recevoir les rejets liquides de l’usine de traitement Pond 11, completed and ready to receive liquid discharges from the processing plant
Convoyeur à bande de 680 mètres 680-meter conveyor belt

Electricity savings: our employees get involved by making some simple but effective gestures

The goal: reduce SOMAÏR's energy costs and make the mining compound energy self-sufficient thanks to solar energy

Since the end of April 2016, 90% of the lamps used for street lighting and collective buildings in the compound are electrically powered by photovoltaic panels installed on the roofs of the houses and the SOMAÏR hospital, resulting in a reduction of more than 50% in installed power for the same level of lighting.

This project with a positive environmental impact also aims to reduce SOMAÏR's energy costs and ensure the compound's energy self-sufficiency in terms of public lighting. Other actions will soon be implemented (blocked regulators on AC, solar water heaters, light detectors for the outdoor lighting of the dwellings, etc.).

Canada: setting a selenium adaptive management plan

The goal: to work towards a better understanding of operational performance and potential technologies.

Orano Canada has continued to study selenium at the McClean Lake Operation throughout 2017. A selenium adaptive management plan was developed in February of 2017 to manage selenium related risks. The main objectives of the plan are to work towards a better understanding of operational performance, potential technologies to supplement existing selenium removal, and risk characterization in the downstream environment.

In 2017, Orano Canada completed scoping level evaluations of two supplemental selenium treatment techologies, should they be needed in the future: zero valent iron, and the BioteQ Selen-IX process. Several sampling campaigns were conducted both to improve the understanding of removal of selenium from treated effluent through existing processes, and to better characterize the selenium through speciation at different points in the effluent chain. Field studies completed in 2017 consisted of sampling to establish a baseline of fish tissue selenium concentrations in the McClean Lake East Basin, which is downstream from our treated effluent release.

Survey of protected species on the Bellezane site

The goal: to protect biodiversity in the Limousin region.

In 2011, Orano Mining conducted a study on the Bellezane site, with the objective of identifying flora and fauna present on the site for the protection of species. The former mining site, in operation from 1975 to 1992, was remediated from 1992 to 1996, and is now subject to environmental monitoring.

In France, a ZNIEFF (Zone Naturelle d’Intérêt Écologique, Faunistique et Floristique), is a listed natural area of exceptional interest in terms of its ecology, flora and fauna. Here in the remediated zone, the richness and the diversity of the plant and animal species present encourage us to have the site listed as a ZNIEFF. We have begun a process with a view to this.

The flora present on the site studied is of several origins:

The import of grains or plants contained in sludges and sediments stored on the site between 2006 and 2010; these plants are typically associated with wet environments (lakes and ponds). With the exception of the granite walls, the landscape of the two open-cast mines resembles that of the mixed woodland and pasture typical of the Limousin region, known as the “Bocage Limousin”. It consists of fields, hedgerows and woodland.

The inventoried plants are associated with five distinct environments: undergrowth, hedgerows, grasslands and heathland, wet grasslands and the clayey fringe, as shown on the map below. The most rich and diverse environments are the grasslands, hedgerows and undergrowth.

Cartographie des formations végétales Map of vegetation

Of the 140 plant species identified on the site in 2011, none is protected under the French Order of January 20, 1982 determining the list of plant species protected over the whole of French national territory, nor under the French Order of September 1, 1989, relating to the list of protected species in the Limousin region, as a supplement to the national list. The plants present on the site are not of heritage interest. They are plants which are occur commonly in Limousin and in France.

As for the fauna, 60 protected species belonging to 4 taxa (amphibians, reptiles, birds and chiroptera) were identified on the site. In addition to their strict protection status, several species have an unfavorable conservation status and for this reason appear on different regional, national or European lists (red lists, European Habitats Directive, list of species of determining importance for the creation of a ZNIEFF). On the basis of this information, a heritage index has been assigned to each protected species.

As a result, we identified 4 heritage indices for the 60 protected species in the area studied:

Environmental monitoring program with the participation of local communities in Mongolia

The goal: to analyze and monitor water samples, in order to produce reports, assessments and recommendations.

In addition to the work conducted on the flora and fauna, Badrakh Energy is maintaining its participatory environmental monitoring program, in order to make its approach open and transparent with respect to the authorities and the local population. This has been successfully deployed since 2013.

The participatory environmental monitoring program was initiated by Badrakh Energy and COGEGOBI in order to make the approach open and transparent with respect to the authorities and the local population. It has been successfully deployed since 2013.

This year again, the Badrakh Energy team has decided to focus on pedagogical training of the local population in various areas of environmental protection, as well as in water monitoring. The team continues to responded positively to requests from herders to analyze the well water they consume.

In line with the program underway, the local population, official representatives and independent experts and scientists, and school children are regularly invited to accompany the teams from Badrakh Energy and COGEGOBI* when they carry out sampling on land in the districts of Argalant, Bayanbogd and Zuunbayan. The samples are sent for analysis to the certified laboratory at the Nuclear Research Center and to the Central Geological Laboratory. The results are then made public.

Mongolia: The local commissions assess environmental remediation work positively

Each year, COGEGOBI* submits its environmental monitoring plan to Mongolia's Ministry for the Environment, Green Development and Tourism, for approval. Once the exploration activities are complete, the sites are inspected by the environmental monitoring department and several local commissions.

The results of these inspections carried out in November 2017 demonstrated that the measures taken in the field following the end of the drilling campaign fulfilled 87.8%* (Badrakh Energy) and 80.7% (COGEGOBI)* of the commitments of the environmental monitoring plan. The Commissions commended all of the initiatives undertaken by COGEGOBI and Badrakh Energy in favor of environmental protection: the setting up of a system of flags indicating to the trucks which tracks to take on the drilling sites in order to avoid creating new unnecessary tracks; planting of saxaul seedlings.

Badrakh Energy LLC and COGEGOBI* are making every effort to minimize the impact of their activities on the environment and local communities. The approach of the on-site teams is to apply best practices and international standards while drawing on their own experiences.

*company responsible for exploration work in Mongolia

Social commitment

Creating new opportunities locally for developing skills and recruiting skilled employees

The goal: to meet needs for the recruitment of skilled employees on our sites.

Local communities forming a talent pool

One of Orano's objectives in Saskatchewan is to maximize the number of employees who live in the communities of the north of the province in the area where the McClean Lake site is located. To support the recruitment of young northerners, Orano has set up a training program targeting the local communities. The aim is twofold: to secure recruitment needs, whilst equally playing a positive role in terms of local socio-economic activity.

Skill-enhancing training initiative

Over recent years, Orano Canada has implemented an extensive training project designed for the isolated communities in the Athabasca basin situated closest to the McClean Lake site in northern Saskatchewan. For the most part aboriginal, these communities have very limited opportunities for employment or skills development.

Since 2012, Orano Canada has developed a number of dedicated training programs with six focus areas:

Shared benefits over the long term

This program allows the teams at McClean Lake to secure their future recruitment needs and contribute to the economic and social development of the region. With convincing results. Since 2012, 91 young people from the region have completed their operator training and 80 of them have been recruited. 59 of these employees continue to work on the McClean Lake site today. Participants in the program who complete their training and who are not recruited or who have left Orano succeed in finding a job in the region, thus putting their apprenticeship to good use.

As the number of applications continues to increase, more partnerships have been set up with representatives of the local community, educational establishments and financing bodies.

Mine closure

R&D program relating to the remediation and environmental monitoring of former mining sites

The goal: forward planning to remain compliant with regulatory requirements and address social concerns relating to the management of former mining sites as effectively as possible.

The "Envir@mines" R&D program was created in 2010. It aims to meet and plan ahead to maintain compliance with the requirements of the National plan for the management of radioactive materials and radioactive waste (PNGMDR) on the question of mine closure risks.

Though the Envir@Mines program concerns all the mining sites of the group, here we focus on our actions in France, on mines that have already been remediated. Our goal: to improve knowledge of the environmental footprint of mining sites and offer new technologies to optimize the management and treatment of water.

13 academic partners (Université Paris VI, Ecole des Mines de Paris, Université de Poitiers, Université de Bruxelles, the University of Manchester, the University of Granada, and the CEA, etc.) are working with teams from Orano Mining. Their research work is focused on 3 themes: management of waste rock, management of tailings and management of aqueous discharges. A review of the progress that has been made so far as well as the work currently in progress is provided below.

Management of waste rock

Orano Mining has conducted several sampling campaigns on remediated sites to characterize the evolution of waste rock storage and its potential impact on the surrounding environment. A multi-year study is ongoing to develop predictive models of the possible migration of substances from the rock piles to the environment.

Management of tailings

Orano Mining is studying the evolution of ore tailings and working on the development of models to better predict their long-term environmental impact, based on a normal scenario and degraded scenarios.

Aqueous discharges and bioavailability

The future French standards on the environmental quality of aquatic environments will take into account the bioavailability of contaminants. In order to meet these new requirements, Orano Mining is building its knowledge on the bioavailability of several metals of interest (Uranium, Radium, Barium, Aluminum, Manganese and Iron) and the potential risks they pose for ecosystems.

Gabon: Mounana 200 Project

The goal: demolition and reconstruction of 201 affected houses in the municipality of Mounana identified subsequent to a change in the regulatory limit for radiological exposure of members of the public concerning the Annual Actual Dose Added (Dose Efficace Annuelle Ajoutée – DEAA) from 5 to 1mSv, and validated by the Gabonese authorities

At the time when the site was being mined (in the 1970s-1980s), radiologically contaminated products were used in the concretes used in the construction of certain houses in the municipality of Mounana (including the Cité Rénovation).

Subsequent to a change in the regulatory limit for radiological exposure of members of the public concerning the Annual Actual Dose Added (DEAA) from 5 to 1mSv, in 2006 and 2007, the CNPPRI drew up an exhaustive inventory of housing in the Cité Rénovation.

Between 2007 and 2009, the first works were carried out in the municipality of Mounana, leading to the demolition and reconstruction of 18 affected houses in the Cité H.

The inventory was extended, between 2008 and 2011, to the entire municipality of Mounana, and in 2011 Orano Mining made a commitment to rebuild the 201 radiologically affected houses in Mounana, including 124 houses in the Cité Rénovation in the former workers compound and 69 houses in Mounana demolished/and reconstructed in the same place.

The definitive list of the radiologically affected houses was validated by the technical committee (COMUF, CNPPRI, Gabonese State) in 2013. The location for the reconstruction of the houses currently situated in the Cité Rénovation was discussed and validated the same year by the inter-ministerial committee, and was subject to a declaration of public interest (Déclaration d’Utilité Publique – DUP).

Concerning the reconstruction of the 124 houses in the Cité Rénovation, it has been enacted based on an agreement, according to which the State of Gabon will be responsible for the construction of the Roads and Utilities (Voiries et Réseaux Divers – VRD) while the COMUF shall manage the construction, demolition and handover of the deeds of ownership. The project is divided into 3 stages (24, then 48 and 52 houses), in order to allow an economic activity to develop over a period of several years in the municipality of Mounana. The employment of local personnel is thus to be privileged for the entire project.

The first works commenced in June 2016, with the deforestation and earthworks in the areas where the 124 houses are to be located.

Work on the construction of the first 24 houses started in November 2016: work on the elevations has started and this first worksite should be completed in the summer of 2018.

Remediation of the mining site of Bellezane

The goal: the environmental impact of a mining site is considered for all stages of the site's life cycle, and that includes in the context of subsequent additional remediation work.

The former open-cast mine at Bellezane (Limousin, France) underwent remediation between 1992 and 1997. It is now used to store residues from the processing of uranium ore, and is an ICPE (Installation Classée pour la Protection de l’Environnement / French classified facility for environmental protection) subject to regular monitoring carried out within the framework of prefectural orders.

A project has been launched to build a new storage capacity, designed to accommodate radioactively contaminated sediments resulting from the dredging of local water bodies. The installation is dimensioned for a maximum capacity of 200,000 m3 and is located above where the processing residues from the ore mined during the mining of the site are stored.

Several environmental studies including inventories of fauna and flora have been conducted and validated by the authorities upstream of the project. Orano Mining has taken additional measures to preserve biodiversity during the construction phase, such as for example:

An independent expert has verified that the actions presented have been implemented and effective.

This new sediment storage capacity is now in use and has already been used to accommodate sediments resulting from the dredging of three local water bodies in the Haute-Vienne.

Waste Rock survey campaign

The goal: use of waste rock in the public domain: a large-scale survey

In 2009, the Ministry of Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and the Sea entrusted Orano Mining with the public service mission of carrying out a survey of the waste rock from mining present in France in the public domain, and resulting from former mining sites, whether or not operated by Orano Mining. Orano Mining devoted major human and material resources to this project, an initiative that is in line with Orano Mining's CSR approach.

Waste Rock from mining

Between 1947 and 2001, 76,000 tonnes of uranium were extracted from French soil, from 237 mining sites located throughout the territory. To access these deposits, it was necessary to remove 187 million tonnes of earth, sand or rock containing no or little uranium.

In accordance with the regulations in force at the time, some of these materials were used in the public domain for backfill. From 1984, Orano Mining set up a register providing traceability of waste rock from mining activities carried out by Orano Mining and its subsidiaries, but this was not the case for other operators.

A helicopters and men

Within the framework of this project, in 2009 and 2010, Orano Mining started performing aerial surveys of areas across the country covering a surface area of 3,000km² where waste rock may have been used. This was done via overflights using helicopters equipped with special geophysical measuring apparatus (gamma spectrometers), in all regions where waste rock could have been re-used (Auvergne, Bretagne, Languedoc-Roussillon, Pays de la Loire, Limousin). With the help of specialized independent companies, Orano Mining then conducted analyses and inspections on the ground, between 2011 and 2013, to characterize these zones (in total, 1,348 zones with waste rock).

Decontaminating the zones

Of these sites, 58 zones exceeded the reference threshold of 0.6 mSv/year*, beyond which remediation work must be performed, and 216 zones were found to be between 0.3 mSv/year and 0.6 mSv/year, requiring consultation to determine whether an intervention was necessary. Having studied and prepared the areas to be treated, in autumn 2015 the Orano Mining teams started the cleanup work by removing the tailing material. This work is being carried out in agreement with the local authorities, who are allowing them to be stored at sites where studies have shown their lack of impact on the environment and people. The work has now already been completed in Haute-Vienne, in the Auvergne and in the Loire, and will continue in 2018 and 2019 in certain other départements.

* The Sievert (Sv) is a unit used in radiation protection which is expressed in "equivalent dose" and takes into account the characteristics of the radiation and of the irradiated organism. On average it amounts to 2.9 mSv per year in France. This value depends partly on the geological setting and can range from 1 mSv in the Paris basin to 4 mSv in granitic regions (Limousin, Brittany, Auvergne, etc.).
In accordance with the French Public Health Code, this dose must be less than 1 mSv above the natural background level. The circular of August 8, 2013 describes a generic methodology for the management of areas affected by the presence of mining waste. It sets a guideline value for the added dose, triggering performance of work from a value of 0.6 mSv/year.

R&D and Innovation

A tool for environmental R&D studies: DGTs (Diffusive Gradients in Thin Film)

The goal: based on the principle of the diffusive gradient, this technique makes it possible to pre-concentrate contaminants which are of interest in soluble form (U, 226Ra, Se, As, etc.) for more effective detection.

The technique was developed in 1994 by Hao Zhang and William Davison at the Lancaster Environment Center of Lancaster University in the United Kingdom. Diffusive Gradients in Thin films (DGTs) are mainly used in environmental chemistry to detect elements and compounds in aqueous media in natural waters, sediments and soils. The technique involves using a specially-designed passive sampler that houses a binding gel, diffusive gel and membrane filter. The element or compound passes through the membrane filter and diffusive gel and fixes itself to the binding gel. Post-deployment analysis of the binding gel can be used to determine the concentration of the element of interest in the solution in which the DGT was located.

In 2012, Environmental R&D launched a research program, in partnership with the Université de Bruxelles in order to use the tool primarily for the measurement of the total uranium dissolved in solution, as well as to measure other contaminants of interest. DGTs were tested and optimized in the laboratory under controlled conditions. In a second phase, they were also successfully deployed on several mining sites, for use both in surface waters, as well as in porewaters from sediments.

This system is now operational: it is used for the environmental monitoring of targeted sites, and means that it is no longer necessary to use more limiting methods such as ultrafiltration.

For further information

Phrommavanh V., Leermakers M., de Boissezon H., Nos J., Koko M.B., Descostes M. (2013). Characterizing the transport of natural uranium and its decay product 226Ra, downstream from former mines in France. Procedia Earth and Planetary Science 7, 693-696.

Drozdzak J., Leermakers M., Gao Y., Phrommavanh V., Descostes M. (2015). Evaluation and application of Diffusive Gradients in Thin Films (DGT) technique in uranium mining environments. Analytica Chimica Acta 889, 71-81.

Drozdzak J., Leermakers M., Gao Y., Elskens M., Phrommavanh V. Descostes M. (2016a). Uranium aqueous speciation in the vicinity of former uranium mining sites using Diffusive Gradients in Thin Films and Ultrafiltration techniques. Analytica Chimica Acta 913, 94-103.

Drozdzak J., Leermakers M., Gao Y., Elskens M., Phrommavanh V., Descostes M. (2016b). Novel speciation method based on Diffusive Gradients in Thin-Films for in situ measurement of Uranium in the vicinity of the former uranium mining sites. Environmental Pollution 214, 114-123.

Leermakers M., Phrommavanh V., Drozdzak J., Gao Y., Nos J., Descostes M. (2016). DGT as a useful monitoring tool for radionuclides and trace metals in environments impacted by uranium mining: case study of the Sagnes wetland in France. Chemosphere 1

Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Uranium Mining and Milling in Canada
David J. Parker*†, Cameron S. McNaughton*‡†, and Gordon A. Sparks†
† Department of Civil and Geological Engineering, University of Saskatchewan, Canada

Reduction in differences in grade between the Block Model and measurement at the gantry

The goal: to comply with the grade envisaged in order to improve the productivity of deposits and ensure that SOMAIR can continue to remain in service for its planned operating life. This project has been using the A3 problem-solving methodology, deployed by ORANO and ORANO Mining as part of the Operational Excellence initiative.

This project is based on an analysis of the entire mining process, right through from the cleaning up of blastings to the moment the ore is transferred onto the gantry crane. The result of the actions deployed subsequent to this analysis shows that there has been a considerable reduction in the large negative difference, recorded in 2016 between the grades actually obtained during mining works and the grades envisaged, from –14% in 2016 to around –5% in 2017, corresponding to a change of +9%.

Within a matter of weeks, the teams identified the priority actions to be undertaken (modification of the piping system, adaptation of the pump unit and the pipework...) to arrive at a sustainable solution corresponding to the need. On November 14, 2017, this project was selected from among 15 other competing projects within the group to be awarded the Gold medal in the ORANO group A3 challenge.

Increase in throughput in the solvent workshop