Health & Environment ›› What is Uranium?
Kvanefjeld seen from Narsaq

What is Uranium?

  • Uranium is a naturally existing element, embedded in low concentration in rocks, soil, water and even in living tissue in animal and individual people. It is a silver grey metallic element, it has the highest weight of atoms of all natural deposits, and is significantly heavier than lead.
  • Uranium is mostly known for its radioactive characteristics and it is these characteristics, which makes this element interesting in the context of commercial use primarily within production of energy.

Uranium in Greenland

  • Seeing that the primary minerals in Kuannersuit/Kvanefjeld contains both rare earth elements and uranium, it is not possible to extract the rare earth elements selectively and leave the uranium. those two products can only be separated chemically from the mined ore.

Approximately 16 percent of the world's electricity comes from nuclear power

  • Commercially, uranium is mainly used as fuel to the production of energy. approximately 16 percent of the world's electricity comes from nuclear power.
  • The nuclear fuel circuit produces virtually no greenhouse gas. It prevents emission of multiple billions of tons of CO2 out to the atmosphere. Countries such as Finland, Germany and France use nuclear power to produce electricity. Denmark enjoys the benefits of electricity-supply from Sweden, which also uses nuclear power to produce energy.  
  • Nuclear power plants work, just like all other power plants by generating heat, which boils water to produce steam, which drives the generators. In a nuclear reactor, the steam production is done by core fission.

No greenhouse gasse

  • Unlike other forms of energy supply such as coal, oil and gas, uranium does not emit greenhouse gas. 

Source: Comparative Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Power Generation.

Radiation safety 

  • Even though the concentration of the uranium at Kvanefjeld-area is low, in particular compared to the concentration in Canadian mines, the safety standards for the Kvanefjeld-project are very strict. a number of measures for safety are taken in order to protect the health of the employees: Emission of dust and radon is controlled to minimize the exposure via inhalation. Employees exposed to handle the drill ores, are submit to strict sanitary requirements, and breathing protection mask is a requirement when working in dusty environments.
  • Everyone throughout the world is exposed to some extent of radiation, whether ore mining is conducted or not. the radiation exposure will be highly reduced (far below the international and Australian/Canadian guidelines for exposure), since handling period is restricted, the distance to radioactive material is maximized, regularly sanitation of hands is secured and it is required, to carry personal/safety devices, inclusive cloves, safety goggles and boilersuit.
  • Rock pieces, which contain minerals with elements, inclusive uranium, has been displayed on the surface in the huge Kvanefjeld-area in millions of years. The outcome is, that radiation has been a natural part of the environment, long before the first man sat his foot in the soil of Greenland, and without visible or known harmful effect on the local ecosystem.