Nigerian Uranium: The situation so far…

By Yemi Olakitan

The creation of nuclear energy depends on the radioactive element uranium, which also has many other industrial and medical uses. Even though it is present in minor levels throughout much of the world, not every nation has established a large mining industry for this crucial mineral.

Uranium has been found in various places around Nigeria, however it is not currently being minied.

In Nigeria, uranium has been discovered in a number of states, including Adamawa, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Cross River, Gombe, Imo, Kano, and Sokoto. However, Nigeria does not currently mine it. There are no active uranium mines and no known commercial uranium reserves in the nation.

Nigerian uranium mining is not currently taking place, nevertheless. There are no active uranium mines and no known commercial uranium reserves in the nation. Nigeria has multiple areas where uranium has been discovered, but it is not being harvested or prepared for use. The absence of uranium mining in Nigeria is due to a number of factors. One factor is the absence of known substantial uranium reserves in the nation that are thought to be economically viable for mining. A further obstacle to the establishment of this business has been the absence of legislative and infrastructure frameworks in Nigeria that would enable a uranium mining industry.

Due to the industry’s potential effects on the environment and public health, uranium mining can be a contentious subject. If not adequately controlled, the extraction and processing of uranium can lead to the release of radioactive materials into the environment, which could be dangerous to human health. Any initiatives to establish a uranium mining sector in Nigeria must take these possible effects into account and put in place the necessary safeguards to preserve the environment, the health of workers, and the wellbeing of entire communities. Despite the difficulties, several industry professionals think Nigeria has the potential to play a large role in the world’s uranium market if it can successfully develop its resources. This would require a substantial investment in infrastructure and exploration, as well as the development of a regulatory framework to monitor the sector. But it’s still unclear whether Nigeria will be able to get beyond these obstacles and launch a prosperous uranium mining sector in the future. In Nigeria, uranium mining and processing have not yet started. Six states in the nation have reported finding the element: Cross River, Adamawa, Taraba, Plateau, Bauchi, and Kano. Uranium deposits are discovered in sandstone and vein-type mineralization in northern Nigeria. These deposits can include auxiliary minerals such apatite, sphene, zircon, allanite, monazite, pyrochlore, uraninite, and xenotime, which may also include uranium. These deposits are often sedimentary or volcanic in origin. Although uranium has been found in these areas, Nigeria is not actively engaged in the extraction or processing of the metal. Chemical element uranium has the atomic number 92 and the letter U. It is a white metal that belongs to the periodic table’s actinide series and has a low radioactivity level.

With half-lives ranging from 69 years to 4.5 billion years, all of its isotopes are unstable. Uranium-238 and uranium-235 are the most prevalent isotopes in naturally occurring uranium.

Only plutonium is lighter than uranium, which has the second-highest atomic weight among naturally occurring elements. It is less dense than gold or tungsten but denser than lead.

It is economically derived from uranium-bearing minerals like uraninite and is naturally present in minute amounts in water, rock, and soil.

As uranium-238 (99.2739%–99.2752%), uranium-235 (0.7198%–0.7202%), and a trace amount of uranium-234 (0.0050%–0.0059%), it can be found in nature.

The half-lives of uranium are 4.47 billion years for uranium-238 and 704 million years for uranium-235. Uranium decays slowly by producing an alpha particle.

Modern applications for these isotopes include nuclear energy and the manufacture of weapons. While uranium-238 and uranium-233 can be converted into fissile material, uranium-235 is the only naturally occurring fissile isotope. Additionally, uranium is utilised as a glass colourant, in kinetic energy penetrators, armour plating, and other devices.

Control of uranium radiation in Nigeria
For the purposes of uranium exploration, mining, and processing in Nigeria, a draught regulation has been made by the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA). The Ministry of Justice is actively reviewing this regulation. The fundamental objective of the law is to create organisational and technological standards that uranium mining and processing enterprises must adhere to in order to responsibly reduce any potential hazards. The earth’s crust contains trace amounts of uranium, a naturally occurring element that is dispersed pretty equally over the globe. The World Nuclear Association reports that uranium has been found in more than 20 nations, and that it is now being mined in about a dozen others.