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Nuclear may lose green tag if fuel costs rise

Environmental costs of nuclear power are likely to increase as high-grade uranium becomes harder to find, according to new research that has been challenged by the uranium industry.

The findings form part of the debate over what part nuclear power will play in supplying future energy needs.
Australian researchers writing in the journal Environmental Science and Technology say that the average grade of the uranium extracted from mines around the world has gradually declined over the past 50 years.

That trend is likely to continue, says lead author Dr Gavin Mudd from Melbourne’s Monash University.

This means mining companies will have to use more energy and more water to extract the ore and process it for use in power stations.

“Ore grade is one of the most sensitive predictors of carbon and water cost,” Mudd says. “It’s pretty clear that in the long term, the ore grade will decline.”

ABC (Australia)

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