Uranium in Sweden

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Uranium in Sweden

by Olov Holmstrand

There are huge amounts of low grade uranium in Sweden both in old bedrocks and younger black shales (alum shale). Most of the black shale uranium is in the south part of Sweden, most of the bedrock uranium is the north.

As part of the former plans for nuclear weapons in Sweden a uranium mine was established in black shale in Ranstad, Västergötland and was operated 1965-1969 at a reduced capacity producing 210 tons of uranium. As a consequence of temporary high uranium price a big extension of the mine was proposed in 1975 and 1977. This was stopped by successful resistance led by the environmental group Skövde Miljöforum, which forced the municipalities to use their veto right.

The uranium prospecting continued all over Sweden up to 1986 and concentrated on bedrock in the northern part at sites as Pleutajokk in Arjeplog and Lilljuthatten in Krokom. All prospecting ended due to the low uranium price and environmental considerations.

In 2005 the uranium price increased rapidly and foreign companies had earlier been allowed to operate in Sweden. Up to the end of 2010 about 40 companies from 7 states have been given more about 300 exploration permits (claims). So far there are no applications for starting mines. However test drillings have been done in several areas and one project in Oviken, Jämtland has been presented in detail.

Due to the low grade in ores the uranium mining in Sweden has to be executed on a large scale producing large amounts of low radioactive waste and making a huge impact on the landscape as can be seen on the picture of the open pit in Ranstad in 1978.

It is immoral to import uranium to the Swedish nuclear power plants due to the environmental consequences of mining. The solution to that dilemma is to not start mining in Sweden, but to stop mining everywhere and by that eliminating all risks with nuclear weapons and nuclear power. This is the view of the anti-uranium network in Sweden, which was established in 2005.