Orano deploys muon tech to target high-grade uranium deposits in Saskatchewan
(Kitco News) - French nuclear and uranium mining giant Orano and Canadian Earth 'x-ray' start-up Ideon Technologies have deployed the world's first muon detector for imaging of compact uranium deposit in Athabasca Basin, Saskatchewan, Canada.
According to a statement, the EUREKA-approved research and development project, which is receiving advisory services and funding support from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP), will run from now through the end of 2021 at McClean Lake, an Orano site in northern Saskatchewan.
Ideon is a world pioneer in muon tomography, providing x-ray-like imaging up to 1 km beneath the Earth's surface. The Ideon discovery platform integrates proprietary muon detectors, imaging systems, inversion technologies, and artificial intelligence to produce high-resolution 3D density maps of underground targets.
Orano's imaging target is a high-grade, compact uranium deposit located at 300 metres depth. Multiple borehole muon detectors are deployed down a single drill hole in a connected sequence, delivering progressive imaging results throughout the survey.
"We're excited to move forward on this project with Ideon because we expect it to transform the very nature of how we explore," says Hervé Toubon, Research & Development and Innovation Director at Orano Mining. "Global uranium demand is projected to grow by up to 40% by 2025 and it is virtually impossible for us to detect high-grade deposits at depth using traditional geophysical exploration techniques. The subsurface intelligence we gain with muon tomography gives us the ability to accurately locate those anomalies while reducing the need for drilling and lowering our overall environmental impact. That value proposition is hard to beat."
In addition to muon tomography models, Ideon will work with Orano to develop joint inversions with existing drill data and other geophysical datasets.