There’s a new player in the global uranium industry. The Kingdom of Jordan has jumped into the fray, thanks to the production of around 20kg of yellowcake from 160 tons of raw uranium ore.
According to Mohammad Shunnaq, general manager of the state-owned Jordanian Uranium Mining Company (JUMCO), its extraction plant was successful in its initial foray into yellowcake production. He added that JUMCO expects to extract a sizable amount of yellowcake from several hundred tons of raw ore over the remaining months of this year.
The Arab nation has long been known for its uranium ore deposits, particularly within the center of the country which produces around 42,000 metric tons of uranium oxide. Currently, based on a report from the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC,) Jordan holds 140,000 tons in reserve of conventional uranium. Shunnaq stated further that the yellowcake produced from locally sourced ore is of excellent quality and its average uranium concentration is at 150 parts per million (ppm.)
What Will It be Used For?
According to Shunnaq, locally-refined yellowcake will be used to power the kingdom in the place of fossil fuels. The bulk of production has been portioned off for fuelling the nation’s nuclear power plants.
JUMCO’s ongoing uranium exploration and extraction initiatives are more than just an industrial endeavor, as these are part of the Central Jordan Uranium Project, an integral element of the nation’s nuclear program. The program also covers initiatives conducted under Jordan’s Nuclear Power Plant Project, as well as its Nuclear Reactor Project for Research and Training.
Shunnaq is also open to the possibility that Jordan may produce enough uranium to market to other nations. Before this, however, JUMCO will first scale up to a more expansive facility for refining thousands of tons of uranium ore. Likewise, it will be conducting several feasibility studies and a comprehensive market / industrial evaluation of its existing facilities to see their readiness for trade.
For his part, JAEC chairman Khaled Toukan expressed pride that Jordan was now the only nation within the Levantine region with its own 5MW nuclear reactor. While this is just a research reactor for now, he hopes that, by 2030, the country will have several nuclear reactors for the shared purpose of generating electricity for public and industrial use, as well as water desalination to augment the country’s potable water supply.
All initiatives related to uranium within the kingdom are properly coordinated with the International Atomic Energy Agency. These are also a complementary initiative to the country’s ongoing effort to desalinate seawater and produce electricity via hydropower means.