Reserves at Europe’s last uranium mine ensure production for 5 years

Czech state-owned uranium mining company Diamo says survey has revealed larger-than-expected reserves, worth some Kč 3 billion

Companies|Energy & Green Biz
Tom Jones | 23.01.2012
The Rožná uranium mine currently reaches a depth of 1 kilometer

The Rožná uranium mine near the village of Dolní Rožínka, around 45 kilometers (km) northwest of Brno, has reserves to ensure the continuation of production for at least another five years, the concern’s management has announced. Diamo says the newly ascertained reserves are worth at least Kč 3 billion; local representatives hail preservation of jobs. 

“Three years ago, we opened the 23rd floor, which originally was to remain closed. There, however, we have progressively been finding new and newer reserves of quality uranium ore,” Jiří Jež, director of the state-owned uranium miner Diamo, told the server iHNED.cz, adding that it is likely that yet more ore reserves will be found. “This definitely doesn’t mean that we’ve finished surveying. Every year we find more than we mine,” he explained.

The news that the closure of the mine is not imminent has been welcomed by representatives of local communities. “Uranium ore has been mined here for more than 50 years, and it’s good that the people who work in the mines will be able to continue in the profession that they know,” the mayor of near-by Bystřice nad Pernštejnem, Karel Pačiska, told the server iDNES.cz.

Cash for clean-up

MP Josef Novotný (SNK European Democrats), who worked as technician at the Rožná and served as mayor Bystřice nad Pernštejnem, says the larger reserves will mean that Diamo will be able to provide more finances for ecological clean-up of the mine and its vicinity.

“Each extension of mining is not only good for the region but also good for the economy of the state enterprise. What’s more, the continued production means the state will be able to make money for the sanitization of the mine site, for which it doesn’t have the funds at present,” Novotný told iDNES.cz.

According to Novotný, the clean-up of the Rožná mine, where extraction commenced in 1956, will cost around Kč 15 billion. “The state’s ecological debts are not in writing anywhere and not foreseen in any budget,” he explained.

Diamo currently extracts around 600 tons of uranium annually, mainly from the Rožná mine but also from the now-closed mine in Stráž pod Ralskem, where run-off from so called acid leaching is still being extracted for uranium production.

Uranium mining on the territory of the Czech Republic peaked in the 1950s, reaching as much as 3,000 tons per annum. At the time, political prisoners were sent to work the mines, typically without sufficient protective clothing, causing many to die prematurely of radiation poisoning.

According to Diamo, which surveys uranium deposits throughout the country, there are 164 uranium deposit sites in the Czech Republic, 66 of which have been mined. In recent years there has been increasing interest in reviving uranium mining in the Czech Republic, including from large international mining companies. 

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