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UNFC now fully applicable to uranium and thorium resources

Published: 03 December 2014

The United Nations Framework Classification for Fossil Energy and Mineral Reserves and Resources 2009 (UNFC) is now fully applicable to uranium and thorium resources. This marks an important step in the development of UNFC. The Bridging Document between the “Red Book” (the Uranium Classification of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)) was strongly supported by UNECE member States on 20 November during the annual meeting of the UNECE Committee on Sustainable Energy held in Geneva (19-21 November).

Bridging documents explain the relationship between UNFC and another classification system that has been agreed by the UNECE Expert Group on Resource Classification as an aligned system. They incorporate instructions and guidelines on how to classify estimates generated by application of that aligned system using the numerical codes of UNFC.

Two international systems are used for classification and reporting of uranium and thorium deposits, the “Red Book” and the Committee for Mineral Reserves International Reporting Standards (CRIRSCO) Template for solid minerals. UNFC, unlike other systems, covers the total resource base, including quantities that are not currently economic and the ‘unrecoverable’ part of the deposits. Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves for uranium and thorium deposits prepared under the CRIRSCO family of aligned codes and standards, can now be mapped to the UNFC by applying the Bridging Document that already exists between the CRIRSCO Template and UNFC. Understanding the total resource base is important for Governments in managing their national resources.

UNECE Executive Secretary, Christian Friis Bach, observed: “This strong support of member States underlines the value placed on UNFC as the international standard for the reporting of all energy and mineral resources. Sustainable energy development depends on careful management of the world’s non-renewable energy resources – oil, natural gas, coal and uranium – and UNFC has an important role to play in this process. The work to extend the system to renewable energy sources will be critical in moving towards building a sustainable energy system.”

Harikrishnan Tulsidas,  Nuclear Technology Specialist, IAEA stated “The Bridging Document ensures that IAEA Member States now have easy access to an international standard that encompasses the total resource base and all extractive activities. This is important for comprehensive extraction of all valuable commodities. For example, some 12,000 tonnes of uranium are wasted every year because they are not being recovered from phosphoric acid production. This is enough to meet 20% of the world’s annual uranium needs in an environmentally highly beneficial manner.”

Note to editors

Operating under ECOSOC Decision 2004/233, UNECE’s global work on the UNFC is carried out by the Expert Group on Resource Classification, whose key focus is the further development and global promotion and implementation of the UNFC. 

UNFC became operational in December 2013. UNFC, which is generic, intuitive and user-friendly, is the only modern classification system in the world to address the solid minerals and petroleum sectors using a single set of definitions and terminology. Its application is now being broadened to encompass renewable energy resources. The UNFC is an umbrella classification system which is fully aligned with the widely-used commodity-specific systems for solid minerals – the Committee for Mineral Reserves International Reporting Standards (CRIRSCO) International Reporting Template – and for petroleum, the Petroleum Resource Management System (PRMS). Approved by the Board of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) in March 2007, the PRMS was developed by an international group of reserves evaluation experts led by SPE and co-sponsored by the World Petroleum Council (WPC), the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) and the Society of Petroleum Evaluation Engineers (SPEE), and was subsequently endorsed by the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG).

UNFC is designed to meet the needs of four principal stakeholders: (i) analysts of international energy and mineral resources; (ii) Governments – to manage their resources accordingly; (iii) industry – to provide data and information necessary to deploy technology, management and finance in order to serve the host countries, shareholders and stakeholders; and (iv) the financial community – to provide the information necessary to allocate capital appropriately so reducing costs. A strong code, offering simplicity without sacrificing completeness or flexibility, the UNFC paves the way for improved global communications which will aid stability and security of supplies, governed by fewer and more widely understood rules and guidelines. The efficiencies to be gained through its use are substantial.


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