21 December 2012
In spite of the fact that our experience in the use of the UNFC is very recent, we find several advantages and expediencies of implementing this system to classify nuclear raw materials in the same manner as other energy resources like oil and gas.
In Argentina, UNFC approaches on thorium and uranium resources have been made since October 2012 and results have been disseminated in different presentations and papers prepared for IAEA, UNECE and CYTED technical meetings, lecturing at Buenos Aires University, and conferences at the Argentinean Association of Nuclear Technology.
Over the course of many years, we have been using the Red Book classification, where geological knowledge, economic aspects and, in some way, technical feasibility, are considered. The contribution of the assessment of social aspects, considered in the UNFC, is highly relevant taking into account that the main limitations to come back to the domestic uranium production in Argentina are related to those issues. To this respect, it can be considered that approximately 50 % of the uranium identified resources are located in a province (Mendoza), where a local law prohibits both open pit mining and the use of sulfuric acid.
As a general consideration, taking into account that the cost of raw material is subordinated to the total cost of nuclear energy, the dimension of social aspects acquire an even greater importance regarding the economy of a uranium mining project. Therefore, factor “E” should be seen rather as “S”.