Uranium Extraction History using Pressure Leaching
Over the past 60 years of uranium process development only a few commercial uranium plants have adopted a pressure leaching process in their flowsheet. The selection of acid versus alkaline pressure leaching is related to the uranium and gangue mineralogy. Tetravalent (U+4) uranium has to be oxidized to hexavalent (U+6) uranium to be soluble. Refractory tetravalent uranium requires higher temperature and pressure, as practised in pressure leaching, for conversation to soluble hexavalent uranium. This paper chronicles the history of these uranium pressure leaching facilities over the past 60 years, with specific details of each design and operation.