Uranium is the raw material used for nuclear energy generation. It is mined and further processed to make up the highly engineered fuel that is used in nuclear reactors.
While environmental concerns and radiological protection in uranium mining are often at the forefront of stakeholder engagement, there is usually little public discussion about the influence of the uranium mining industry on economic and social development.
Mining in general is a critical economic driver in many countries, accounting for a major percentage of foreign direct investment, mineral exports and government revenue. A mining project can bring benefits to the local and national economies, including economic development, jobs, investment in infrastructure, mining product exports, royalties and tax revenues, education and medical care. These contributions can act as an economic catalyst in support of the development of communities, regions and whole economies.
Under the direction of the Nuclear Development Committee, the NEA contributes to technological and economic studies in uranium through the Joint NEA/IAEA Group on Uranium (UG) and the Expert Group on Uranium Mining and Economic Development (UMED).
The purpose of the Ad hoc Expert Group on Managing Environmental and Health Impacts of Uranium Mining was to produce an account of the practices employed by modern uranium miners and to review up-to-date information on the health and environmental impacts of modern mining practices and regulations in all uranium producing countries.
The group analysed the potential contribution of uranium mining in economic and social development, and explored whether uranium activities are managed to ensure a positive benefit to local and national economies. Case studies in various countries were examined in order to understand the impact of uranium mining on economic development, jobs, infrastructure, education and medical care.
The "Red Book", is a biennial publication produced jointly by the NEA and the IAEA under the auspices of the joint NEA/IAEA Uranium Group. It is the only government-sponsored publication tracking world trends and developments in uranium resources, production and demand.