In this unit, located in the town of Caetité (BA), INB performs the first two stages of the nuclear fuel cycle: mining and uranium processing. The unit covers an area of 1,700 hectares, located in a mineral province with reserves reaching 99,1 million tonnes of uranium and where over 17 ore deposits have been identified.
Over the past 16 years, 3,750 tonnes of uranium concentrate from the open-pit exploitation of one of these deposits – the Cachoeira mine – were produced. The licensing process is ongoing also for open-pit extraction of a new deposit – the Engenho mine.
To ensure the quality of the environment and preserve the health of its employees and the population living near the mining site, INB permanently develops environmental monitoring programs and radiological protection.
After extracted from soil, the mineral-containing rock - the uranite - is subjected to an industrial process called leaching to remove the uranium. From the mineral a liquor is extracted that is brought to the plant, where it goes through a chemical process to turn it into the uranium concentrate, the yellowcake.