Researchers from Murdoch University have discovered a new method to extract uranium from the mineral brannerite – a mineral that has been long-viewed as a waste product.
In recent decades, the assumption has been that brannerite can’t be processed. Murdoch University metallurgical engineering lecturer, Aleks Nikoloski, and his team have studied the reaction chemistry and the right conditions for efficient extraction. “By gaining a better understanding of the chemical processes involved in leaching brannerite, we’ve found a mechanism that works under relatively mild conditions, without the need for high acid concentrations or extreme heats,” said Murdoch University PhD candidate, Rorie Gilligan.
Australia is the world’s third-largest uranium producer and Murdoch University’s finding is expected to benefit producers and explorers in Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland. The new extraction technique could be worth approximately $100 million per annum in added value for the uranium industry.