The report deals with methods of uranium mining, the process of milling and the short term or long term hazards associated with it. The hazard control methods are also described in it. The long term health hazard includes lung cancer which is caused by radiation. In this paper there is a detailed description of cases of WMC Olympic Dam mines and processing plants. Health and safety issues that will arise are also mentioned in this paper. There is also a description of legislative regulatory arrangements of Australia.
Health and safety hazards of uranium mining, milling and transport
The health hazards of uranium mining can be categorized into two main classes:
- Radiation hazards caused by ionizing radiation due to uranium and its decay products
This type of radiation causes a long term effect that occurs after 10-15 years which happens due to the ionizing radiation. In this field the radiation hazard exists at both open fields and underground mines but its effect is more at underground mines.
- Critical and death causing hazards caused from hard rock mining
This type of hazard include explosions, fire, accidental injury, extreme inhalation problems, incessant silicosis and lung growth cause from quartz presentation, clamor actuated deafness, perils brought on from vibration, diesel exhaust, substance dangers, corrosive and antacid consumes from NH3, SO2, H2SO4 and intense and endless respiratory ailment from introduction to vanadium pentoxide, utilized as an impetus in H2SO4 creation, skin ailments because of dissolvable, oil and oil exposures, risks because of warmth and mugginess; and conceivable dangers due to non-ionizing radiation at power, radio and laser recurrence, including both intense and long term impacts (Ehrig et al., 2015).
Environment of the mines
The Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine, with the town of Roxby Downs, is found 560 km north of Adelaide, close to the opal mining focus of Andamooka. This is a dry part of Australia, getting just a normal of just 160 mm of rain for every yearly. There is a mass deposit of ore under the ground, around 350meters beneath the surface, what's more its essential criticalness as a copper mineral body. It is the biggest known uranium ore body on the planet. Its total area is consisted of approximately 21 km2 with a depth of 2000meters. In 2006, the estimated workers of Olympic dam mine was 11175 and is being assumed that every year approximately 5000 of worker are expanded, so accordingly it can be stated that there is approximately 60,000-70,000 workers till date (Blackwell & Dollery, 2014).
Types of worker in the mine of Olympic dam are hewer, collier, driller, loader, putter, barrow-man, hurrier, timberer, brakesman, breaker boy and emergency structure engineer.
Health hazard at uranium mines
Uranium mining is just as same as hard rock mining and mining of other ores, such as copper, gold, silver. When the ore body is identified, immediately a shaft is dipped in the surroundings of the location of the ore and the ore is extracted. Then this ore is crushed which causes exposure to radiation (Mudd, 2014).
The radiation hazard
From the last 95 years the radioactive mining is going on first for radium and then uranium has been started and the miners are exposed to air in mines with the higher levels of radioactivity. Lorentz, 1944 stated that the miners of Schneeberg and Joachimsthal located in the Ore Mountains were aware of the fact that in the 16th century many miners died there due to mountain sickness. The symptoms were cough, chest pain and shortness of breath. It is probable that these symptoms represented more than one disease and included silicosis, tuberculosis and lung cancer.
Uranium mining causes a drastic effect due to radiation. There causes two type of exposure- internal and external. Inner introduction to radioactive materials amid uranium mining and preparing can happen through inhalation, ingestion, or absorption through an open cut or wound. Outer radiation introduction from beta particles or gamma beams can likewise display a wellbeing hazard (Knibbs, & Sly, 2014).
Radiation commonly experienced in uranium mining or handling office operations incorporates alpha (α), beta (β), and gamma (γ) radiation. Every one of the three are sorts of ionizing radiation—energy as particles or waves that has adequate force to remove electrons from atoms. Alpha particles comprise of two neutrons and two protons, travel just a couple of centimeters in air, and can bring about a high density of ionizations along their way. Now and again, alpha particles can enter the dead layer of skin. If radio nucleotides that decay by alpha emanation (e.g., polonium-218, polonium-214) are breathed in, they can possibly grant critical measurements to the pneumonic epithelium. The measurement of alpha vitality conveyed by an alpha molecule to the DNA in a cell in the respiratory epithelium is settled and not subject to fixation or length of introduction (Kossoff, 2014).
Regulation of uranium mining in Australia
Mining or processing uranium mineral is characterized as an 'atomic activity' in Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. This implies an EPBC Act endorsement is required for uranium mining from the Federal Environment Minister if a partnership or the Commonwealth or a Commonwealth office is to make an atomic move that has, will have or is probably going to significantly affect the earth.
Radiation Protection and Control Act 1982 (SA)
Roxby Downs (Indenture Ratification) Act 1982
On March 19, 2015 the South Australian government established The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission to investigate the expansion of uranium mining and exploration of new uranium deposits in South Australia. On November 15, 2016 the government decided to support all five uranium mining related recommendations made by the commission.
Regulatory arrangements in relation to health and safety
Acts have been done for the protection from the radiation in the mining and milling of radioactive ores (Zhang & Moffat, 2015). Those acts have been given below:
- Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers Region) Act 1978
- Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act 1974
- Environment Protection (Northern Territory Supreme Court) Act 1978
- Environment Protection (Nuclear Codes) Act 1978
Under the Environment Protection (Nuclear Codes) Act 1978, three codes have been published with two of these being later revised. The three codes, with the latest dates of publication are:
- Code of practice on the management of radioactive wastes from the mining and milling of radioactive ores (1982 (`Waste Management Code')
- Code of practice on radiation protection in the mining and milling of radioactive ores (1987) (`Radiation Protection Code')
- Code of practice for the safe transport of radioactive substances (1990) (`Transport Code').
Ways to reduce the environmental effect
Utilizing reused materials
Mining claims an extreme and some of the time irreversible toll on general wellbeing, water and air quality, fish and natural life living space, and group interests. On the off chance that we want to diminish our dependence on this action while meeting our present and future metal needs, we should take a gander at getting a greater amount of our crude materials from optional sources-the main other earthbound supply at present accessible. In extensive part, the inability to utilize reused materials can be credited to the distortionary sponsorships for virgin minerals extraction, which make it less expensive to uncover new minerals than to reuse over-the-ground stocks (Macmillan, 2016).
Reusing has various focal points. For instance, it takes far less vitality to reuse disposed of materials than to concentrate, prepare, and refine metals from mineral. It takes 95% less vitality to deliver aluminum from reused materials as opposed to from bauxite metal. Reusing copper takes seven times less vitality than preparing mineral; reused steel utilizes three-and-a-half circumstances less.
Better legislations and regulations
Better regulations and better authorization of existing directions are keys to enhancing natural execution in mining.
Reuse of utilized materials
Big amounts of strong radioactive waste (second waste) and waste arrangement are created from the remediation of uranium-debased soil. To diminish these, we examined washing with a less acidic arrangement and reusing the waste arrangement after expulsion of the prevailing components and uranium. Expanding the pH of the washing arrangement from 0.5 to 1.5 would be helpful as far as financial matters. A high substance of calcium in the waste arrangement was accelerated by including sulfuric corrosive. The second waste can be altogether lessened by utilizing sorption and desorption systems on ampholyte sap S-950 preceding the precipitation of uranium at pH 3.0 (Graetz, G. (2015).
Numerous atomic offices should be decommissioned or disassembled sooner rather than later. In Korea, awesome measures of radioactive soil and solid waste had been created from the decommissioning of two research reactors and a uranium-change plant. Volume diminishment by a suitable treatment will diminish the measure of waste to be discarded, bringing about a decrease in the transfer cost and upgraded effectiveness of the transfer site (Atkins et al., 2016).
For the remediation of radio nucleotide-polluted soil, washing with a proper reagent is a straightforward and powerful strategy. Bicarbonate, solid inorganic acids, and frail natural acids (ascorbic, citrus) have been utilized to expel U (VI) from soil under surrounding oxidizing conditions. In our research facility, nitric corrosive is utilized for the remediation of uranium-tainted (U-contaminated) soil. In any case, it is hard to disinfect soil to a freedom radioactivity level by washing with nitric corrosive alone. For more than 95% remediation of U-contaminated soil, electro-kinetic innovation has been created to be connected after bunch sort washing maybe a couple times. What's more, electro-kinetic gear at a functional scale (512 L of soil/cluster) was as of late fabricated. In any case, an incredible measure of acidic waste arrangement has been produced from the washing forms and the operation of the electro-kinetic disinfecting gear; it must be diminished in volume or be reused. To lessen its volume, the vanishing by warming of water in the waste arrangement requires excessively vitality (Ingham et al. 2014). Along these lines, an appropriate technique for expelling uranium from the waste arrangement to reuse it has been contemplated.
To hasten uranium in the main washing arrangement appeared in Figure, the pH of the waste arrangement was acclimated to nonpartisan or powerless soluble, and alum and magnetite were additionally included. CaO and NaOH have been considered to build the pH of the waste arrangement. While NaOH quickly breaks down and can without much of a stretch control the pH of an answer, aggregated sodium particles are difficult to expel when the arrangement is reused. In the event that CaO is substituted for NaOH, calcium particles can be essentially expelled from the arrangement since calcium particles frame buildings more effectively than sodium particles do, despite the fact that it requires a more drawn out disintegration investment to expand the pH of the arrangement up to 8.0 as a result of the lower disintegration rate of CaO.
To lessen the volume of the second waste from the remediation of U-defiled soil, this work analyzed the utilization of less acidic washing arrangement, the expulsion of overwhelming particles from the second waste, and the extraction of uranium from the waste arrangement. (Kirchenbaur et al.,2016).
However, the uranium precipitation technique by including CaO or NaOH creates an awesome measure of strong radioactive waste (second waste), roughly 10% of the underlying soil volume, on the grounds that the prevailing metal particles, for example, iron and aluminum are additionally hastened in the impartial or powerless antacid arrangement. On the off chance that uranium is specifically expelled from the waste arrangement, the volume of the second waste will be incredibly lessened (Martin, Trigger & Parmenter, 2016).
To decrease the volume of the second waste from the remediation of U-contaminated soil, this work analyzed the utilization of less acidic washing arrangement, the expulsion of prevailing particles from the second waste, and the extraction of uranium from the waste arrangement.
Australia is mining uranium from a very long time. There are underground mines as well as open cut fields also (Eklund, 2015). The major production was done at Rum Jungle in the years of 1954 and 1971.the Olympic dam mine is established in the year of 1988. This paper will provide a brief idea of Olympic dam, its area, types of worker and number of workers. This report also gives a details idea about health hazards caused by the radiation of uranium mines and the symptoms were cough, chest pain and shortness of breath. It is probable that these symptoms represented more than one disease and included silicosis, tuberculosis and lung cancer. The radiation can be reduced by many ways among them the most important is to reuse the utilized waste. Reusing has various positive aspects, e.g., it takes far less vitality to reuse disposed of materials than to concentrate, prepare, and refine metals from mineral. It takes 95% less vitality to deliver aluminum from reused materials as opposed to from bauxite metal. Reusing copper takes seven times less vitality than preparing mineral; reused steel utilizes three-and-a-half circumstances less.
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