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Author: Subject: Thorium vs. Uranium mining
BrinkJ
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[*] posted on 14-2-2014 at 10:31
Thorium vs. Uranium mining


A friend recently told me that a mining company in our country started to harass them to give up their farm, because they have a hill filled with some of the purest Thorium in the country. They want to start doing legal actions to prevent that mining company to even do core sampling.

This made me wonder what the dangers are with regards to mining Thorium, and what the differences are between standard Uranium mining and Thorium mining and in general the chemicals itself. The mining company owns most of the surrounding land and there has been some nuclear radiation to the land and everything on it. Buildings were demolished and taken away to a nuclear waste facility to be disposed of in the proper manner. The worrying thing is that vicinity is one of the main meat producers for the whole country and it is believed that the livestock in the area have also been radiated. People have been radiated by the mining and have died because of its effects.

Keep in mind that I have limited knowledge about Nuclear Chemistry and have some experience with organic and inorganic chemistry.

What would you all think would be a good way to keep them at bay not to mine on the farm? Would an Environmental Protection Act be sufficient enough to keep them away if a community draws up a protest?




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Antiswat
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[*] posted on 14-2-2014 at 15:43


the thing is as of what ive come across so far, although SOME might call this fucking insane and stupid to even believe in

IS.. that uranium when used for nuclear power plants gives off plutonium as a byproduct -- in which can be used for nuclear weaponry
thorium doesnt give off plutonium, this is why they all want to use uranium for nuclear power plants, to harvest plutonium and make nuclear weapons
if people starts to use thorium they cannot harvest plutonium anymore

the people who prints the money are interested in plutonium, so its not because of economical values, its because nuclear weapons are power

thorium is a radioactive material and without knowing that much about its actual properties in which im sure many other members knows quite alot more about, then im willingful to guess that it has many similarities to uranium
and by that meaning its deadly radioactivity

if you really wanna look at this from the worst of all perspectives, in which im very likely gonna get insulted for even mentioning -- then the government owns most large corporations and mining industries are huge, so basically your friend is up against sick men from the government not wanting him to even know anything is called thorium, because thorium = no nuclear weaponry, call it far fetched but war is a reality




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Brain&Force
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[*] posted on 14-2-2014 at 16:53


Thorium and uranium are not extremely radioactive. The main danger from those metals is heavy metal poisoning, not the radiation. The mines, however, emit very large amounts of radiation, and that's the main danger.

Here's a video of uranium being handled like most other metals in the lab: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khfRKnLj-54

Thorium is easy to extract from monazite, as it tends to precipitate and oxidize to a tetravalent state very easily. It's used in breeder reactors.

Pure thorium and uranium are pyrophoric, but that's only true of the pure metals themselves.




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[*] posted on 14-2-2014 at 17:12


BrinkJ, not knowing where your friend lives, my only advice is to buy the mineral rights below the land surface they already own. Also, can you get me a specimen? :)



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PeeWee2000
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[*] posted on 14-2-2014 at 17:23


I think this is better suited for legal/societal issues

You can still make fissionable isotopes (U-233) from thorium in a breeder reactor and the U.S. already has plenty of nuclear warheads anyways. As far as I know its only practical use is for nuclear power plants which are federally controlled anyways, so like antiswat said you'd probably be going up against the government so it's unlikely you're going to win that battle, and even less so be worth it if you did win it. Best idea in my opinion would be to try and squeeze as much money as possible out of them and move. And what bfesser said mineral rights and such ;o

If I were to try to protest however I might try to see if its a reasonably sustainable operation or if they're going to make a mine, deplete it and close the land in just a couple years. If it was the latter you might have a decent argument. As even if it is pure its only worth it if theres alot there.




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The_Davster
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[*] posted on 14-2-2014 at 18:46


Quote: Originally posted by bfesser  
BrinkJmy only advice is to buy the mineral rights below the land surface they already own.


This.
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[*] posted on 14-2-2014 at 22:11


As was said, thorium and uranium aren't strongly radioactive. Thorium is even found in tig electrodes and uranium in sand. The biggest nuclear hazard of mining these materials are the daughter isotopes coming from the millions of years of natural decay, this is where your beta and gamma radiation is emitted. These isotopes are concentrated in the mine tailings, and if aren't handled correctly disperse to the environment where they have the potential for uptake. Getting into the body, even alpha radiation is dangerous. So this is where your long term cancer effects come into play. I don't know how the agricultural products will be affected. Obviously, Bessy doesn't live long enough to get cancer, but whether any of the daughter isotopes become part of the biological makeup is the question. In a simple example, you eat potassium when you eat bananas. Mostly this is K-39, but a small percentage is K-40. You're bone matrix uses potassium chemically and the K-40 is indistinguishable from K-39, where biological processes are concerned. So your bones have a small fingerprint of K-40 which can be detected by appropriate radiation sensors. The meat of the bovine can contain trace quantities of mineral elements, of which a small percentage can contain these uranium/thorium progeny (it is a very long chain of decay products http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uranium_series#Radium_series_.2...). In the end, environmental contamination is the final effect of such mining.

As far as the bunk of plutonium. Yeah the U-235 reactors can produce plutonium. The concentration grows at beginning of life, and then becomes depleted in time. The process to gather plutonium then involves running the reactor with new fuel cores a certain time (far short of the economical lifespan of a power reactor), stopping, jerking the fuel core out and reprocessing in very costly, dirty manner. They have to dissolve the fuel in acid and begin separating the constituents out to isolate high percentages plutonium. The plutonium breeder reactors that we used for warheads are all being cleaned up, after being decommissioned for decades. The government stopped reprocessing spent fuel for unreacted uranium back in the 70's. The scary thing about the nuke industry, if we ever want more nuclear weapons or more nuclear fuel, we'll have to rebuild the infrastructure. It doesn't exist anymore. It's a national security problem. The nuclear power plants still around are mainly tapping into the reserves of U-235 from the old days. They are even buying russian warhead uranium and reforming it into commercial power fuel.

If we got back into the plutonium business again, you'd hear about it... big federal spending. On a side note, Chernobyl was a plutonium breeder plant. Their biggest problem was they eliminated the secondary containment vessel so they could more quickly get the bred fuel cores out quickly, without needed to open the containment and close it repeatedly (as they had to do at Hanford). So when the Chernobyl plant exploded it had no secondary containment to keep the toxic products from escaping to atmosphere.
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BrinkJ
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[*] posted on 15-2-2014 at 02:47


Quote:
If they're going to make a mine, deplete it and close the land in just a couple years. If it was the latter you might have a decent argument. As even if it is pure its only worth it if there's a lot there.


This is true on so many levels. It's exactly what they do in the area. They mine, radiate the whole friggin place and close the mine to move on to the next one.

As an example, the main mine is about 10km from a high traffic volume dirt road connecting two provinces, and a Geiger Counter test revealed Alpha and Beta Radiation traces in the road. Upon confronting the mining company, they said that they simply spray the radioactive dust particles with water. The problem is that this isn't a very efficient method.

Quote:
...then the government owns most large corporations and mining industries are huge, so basically your friend is up against sick men from the government not wanting him to even know anything is called thorium...


After a legal information request of all directors, shareholders and affiliates, the result is that the company is a privately owned company! Even better, it's a private owned company and not a public owned company, meaning that the government has no power to intervene except for where the law is broken.

Quote:
BrinkJ, not knowing where your friend lives, my only advice is to buy the mineral rights below the land surface they already own. Also, can you get me a specimen? :)


If you ask nicely, I'll FedEx you a few core samples. :D




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[*] posted on 15-2-2014 at 08:01


BrinkJ, I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or sincire. If the latter; please U2U me, and maybe we can work out a deal.<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mineral_rights" target="_blank">
Quote:
Mineral rights are property rights to exploit an area for the minerals it harbors. Mineral rights can be separate from property ownership. <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" />
</a>



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[*] posted on 15-2-2014 at 16:11


First of all, while a healthy level of suspicion is good, especially since mining companies all over the world generally don't have a very good record of taking care of the local environment, the things you mention don't have to be very concerning.

If cows are irradiated but do not actually swallow any radioactive particles, it is not going to present any danger. If they do ingest radioactive particles, it all depends on the amount and form. In that case, some may find its way into milk and meat, but these levels are monitored in most countries, so it would probably be known.

Detecting "radiation emitted from a road" is too unspecific. What was the dose? What is the level right next to the road? Which isotopes were detected? etc. It could be completely unrelated to the mine. Background radiation levels are likely to be relatively high in that area regardless of the mining activities if there are mineable quantities of thorium on his property.

+1 on following the advice of Bfesser. Retire early by selling them the mineral rights.




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