View More View Less
  • 1 Atomic Energy Organization of Iran P.O. Box 11365-8486 Tehran (Iran)
Restricted access


Acid leaching of uranium deposits is not a selective process. Sulfuric acid solubilizes iron(III) and half or more of the thorium depending on the mineralog of this element. In uranium recovery by solvent extraction process, uranium is separated from iron by an organic phase consisting of 10 vol% tributylphosphate(TBP) in kerosine diluent. Provided that the aqueous phase is saturated with ammonium nitrate or made 4–5 M in nitric acid prior to extraction. Nitric acid or ammonium nitrate is added to the leach solution in order to obtain a uranyl nitrate product. Leach solutions containing thorium(IV) besides iron are treated in an analogous fashion. Uranium can be extracted away from thorium using 10 vol% TBP in kerosine diluent. The aqueous phase should be saturated with ammonium nitrate and the pH of the solution lowered to 0.5 with sufficient amount of sulfuric acid. In other words, the separation of uranium and thorium depends on the way the relative distributions of the two materials between aqueous solutions and TBP vary with sulfuric acid concentration. Thorium is later recovered from the waste leach liquor, after removal of sulfate ions. Uranium can be stripped from the organic phase by distilled water, and precipitated as ammonium diuranate.