Researchers from China have developed a new technique with which they can detect uranium deposits at great depths. A deposit at a depth of around 3,000 meters has already increased China’s uranium reserves tenfold.
China wants to move away from fossil fuels. Renewable energy is one way to get there, but Beijing is also working on nuclear power – from mini power plants, fusion power plants to conventional nuclear reactors. According to a report by the “South China Morning Post”, rich uranium deposits have now been discovered in China at depths of more than 3000 meters.
The discovery has increased China’s total reserve of workable uranium tenfold to more than two million tons. This one deposit puts China on par with Australia, one of the most uranium-rich countries in the world.
New theory on the formation of uranium hotspots
To discover the deposits, new technology was used to search at depths of around 3,000 meters, which is six times deeper than other mines in China. These deposits will make China self-sufficient in uranium. Not so nice: The new deposits will also help China to increase its arsenal of nuclear weapons.
Li Ziying, director of the Beijing Research Institute of Urangeology, says the discovery suggests uranium deposits form differently than previously thought. Classical teaching assumes that uranium is mainly found in flat, geophysically stable areas. But the largest newly discovered deposits in China have always been found at depth. Li now theorizes that tectonic shifts are causing uranium to rise from the Earth’s mantle, which is then trapped in hotspots deep beneath the Earth’s surface.
In order to discover the deep deposits, a highly sensitive sensor was developed, which detects the minimal traces of heat generated by the uranium at depth on the earth’s surface. A small bore is drilled at these locations to take samples. Artificial intelligence helps with data analysis. This technique should also help to discover deposits of uranium in other countries.