Global Opportunity

>US$1 Billion in potential revenue. Unlocking Uranium in Phosphates.

Sedimentary and igneous phosphate rock deposits contain uranium in varying concentrations, generally between 30 and 300 parts per million (ppm) U3O8. It is estimated that in the world’s 300 billion tonnes (Bt) of reasonably assured phosphate resources, there may be as much as 25Mt of recoverable uranium[1]. At the current worldwide phosphate rock production rate of well in excess of 140Mt per annum (or 50Mt as P2O5: see Table 1) there is an opportunity to recover up to 20 million pounds (Mlb) of uranium per annum from phosphate fertiliser facilities.

The uranium contained in the phosphoric acid ultimately reports either to the phosphate fertilizer products, which include MAP, DAP and Superphosphate, or to the gypsum by-product, depending on the reactor design. Consequently this valuable secondary source of uranium is wasted; approximately US$1 billion in lost revenue.

Opportunity Map

Region

P2O5
Production Capacity
(‘000 metric tonnes)

North America

9,581

Latin America

2,452

Europe

2,371

Eurasia

6,201

Africa

9,357

Asia

19,184

Oceania

507

Total

49,653

Location of worldwide phosphate processing facilities.
Table 1: 2012/13 Worldwide Phosphoric Acid Capacity by Region (source IDFC)

[1] 25Mt U3O8 assumes 100ppm U3O8 in phosphate ore and 80 per cent uranium recovery.