What İs Thorium?

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What is Thorium?

Thorium is a naturally-occurring, slightly radioactive metal discovered in 1828 by the Swedish chemict Jons Jacob Berzelius, who named it after Thor, the Norse god of war.It is found in small amounts in most rocks and soils, where it is about three times more abundant than uranium.Soil commonly contains an average of around 6 parts per million of thorium.

Thorium, as well as uranium, can be used as a nuclear fuel. Although not fissile itself, thorium-232 will absorb slow neutrons to produce uranium-233, which is fissile. Hence like uranium-238 it is fertile.

Domestic Production and use:

The primary source of the world’s thorium is the rare-earth and thorium phosphate mineral, monazite.Monazite was not recovered as a salable product during domestic processing of heavy mineral sands in 2001. Past production had been as a byproduct during processing for titanium and zirconium minerals, and monazite wasrecovered for its rare-earth content. Essentially all thorium compounds and alloys consumed by the domestic industry were derived from imports, stocks of previously imported materials. About eigth companies processed or fabricated various forms of thorium for nonenergy uses, such as high-temperature ceramics, catalyts, and welding electrodes. The value of thorium metal, alloys, and compounds used by the domestic industry was estimated to be about $100,000.

World Refinery Production, Reserves, and Reserve Base:

Reserves and reserve base are contained primarily in the rare-earth ore mineral, monazite. Without demand for the rare earth, monazite would probably not be recovered for its thorium content. Other ore minerals with higher thorium contents, such as thorite, would be more likely sources if demand significantly increased. No new demand, however, is expected. Reserves exist primarily in recent and ancient placer deposits. Lesser quantities of thorium-bearing monazite reserves occur in vein deposits and carbonatites.

Refinery production

2000 2001 Reserves Reserve Base

Australia —- —- 300,000 340,000

Brazil NA NA 16,000 18,000

Canada NA NA 100,000 100,000

India NA NA 290,000 300,000

Malaysia —- —- 4,500 4,500

Norway —- —- 170,000 180,000

South Africa —- —- 35,000 39,000

United States —- —- 160,000 300,000

Other countries NA NA 90,000 100,000

World total NA NA 1,200,000 1,400,000

Domestic mine production of thorium-bearing monazite ceased at the end of 1994 as world demand for ores containing naturally occurring radioactive thorium declined. Imports and existing stocks supplied essentially all thorium consumed in the United States in 2001. Domestic demand for thorium ores, compounds, metals, and alloys has exhibited a long-term declining trend. Thorium consumption in the United States decreased in 2000 to 2.0 tons; however, most material was consumed in a nonrecurring application. In 2001, thorium consumption, primarily for use in catalyst applications, is estimated to decrease. On the basis of data through August 2001, the average value of imported thorium compounds decreaes to $36.58 per kilogram from the 2000 average of $47.76 per kilogram (gross weight).

Year Price Year Price Year Price Year Price

1959 43.10

1960 43.10

1961 43.10

1962 33.07

1963 44.09

1964 33.07

1965 33.07

1966 33.07

1967 33.07

1968 33.07

1969 33.07

1970 33.07

1971 33.07

1972 33.07

1973 33.07

1974 33.07

1975 33.07

1976 33.07

1977 33.07

1978 33.07 1979 33.07

1980 NA

1981 NA

1982 NA

1983 NA

1984 NA

1985 NA

1986 NA

1987 NA

1988 NA 1989 NA

1990 NA

1991 NA

1992 NA

1993 NA

1994 NA

1995 NA

1996 NA

1997 NA

1998 NA

NA:Not Available

In Turkey:

(TON)

Average

Tenor(U O )

Reserves (%)

Manisa-Salihli

Köprübaşı 2852 0.04-0.05

Uşak-Fakılı 490 0.05

Aydın-Küçükçavdar 208 0.04

Aydın-Demirtepe 1729 0.08

Yozgat-Sorgun 3850 0.1

Total Uranium Reserves 9129

Total Thorium Reserves 380000

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