December 1 was the day to celebrate the return of uranium production at the Indústrias Nucleares do Brasil - INB at Unit Caetité, Bahia. At the ceremony, which was attended by the Minister of Mines and Energy, Bento Albuquerque, a detonation was carried out, symbolizing the beginning of open pit mining in a new area, the Engenho Mine.
"Brazil has the technological expertise in all stages of the production of nuclear fuel, the nuclear fuel cycle. However, that means too little if we are unable to extract and add value to uranium, saving in foreign exchange on importation and generating employment and income for the country. And it is here, in Caetité, that everything starts," said INB president Carlos Freire Moreira , in his speech.
At the Uranium Concentration Unit - URA, the first two activities of the nuclear fuel cycle are carried out: mining and uranium processing, resulting in the Uranium Concentrate, also known as Yellowcake (U3O8).
"This resumption is the first phase to consolidate our proposal to make Brazil self-sufficient and a yellowcake exporter," said Minister Bento Albuquerque.
The minister also stressed the importance of nuclear energy for an energy matrix based on the principles of sustainable development. "The latest analysis of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, from the United Nations, and the International Energy Agency, can not conceive any scenario for the next 30 years where there is not a significant share of nuclear supply to meet the demands of generation of basic and large-scale energy, so that, alongside renewables, it meets the needs of the energy transition to decarbonize the economy,” said the minister.
The President of the Republic, Jair Bolsonaro, was unable to attend the event, but sent a video message demonstrating his satisfaction with the resumption of uranium production in Brazil: “Benefiting uranium as it will happen in Caetité, Bahia, represents the generation of jobs and income for everyone," he highlighted.
“So I want to express my gratitude to the Ministry of Mines and Energy and to the Indústrias Nucleares do Brasil, revering the perseverance and determination of their professionals that made this milestone so relevant to Brazil. Congratulations to INB ”, he concluded.
The ceremony was attended by employees of the Unit in Caetité, and had a special moment: the national anthem was sung by a co-worker, geologist Jamyle Praxedes Franco, who has worked at URA for 13 years.
Employees from other INB units, and the general public, were also able to watch the event over the internet, through a live broadcast on INB's YouTube channel and on TV Brasil.
Production and strengthening of the economy
At the INB Unit in Caetité, 3,750 tons of uranium concentrate were produced between 2000 and 2015, from the first mined area, the Cachoeira Mine. Since the depletion of resources amenable to open pit mining at the site, the mining activities were paralyzed.
Uranium is the raw material for the manufacture of nuclear fuel that supplies the plants in Angra dos Reis. The resumption of production is an achievement for INB and, as a result, for the country. It also represents an important factor for the generation of jobs and resources for the southwestern region of Bahia. The expectation is that 260 tons of uranium concentrate will be produced per year, when the Engenho Mine reaches its full capacity, which should occur in 2022.
“Today, INB resumes production of uranium in Caetité, generating around 600 direct jobs and around 1,800 indirect jobs. With this, there will be an injection of financial resources in the local economy of about 76 million reais per year and almost 30 million per year of collection of state and municipal taxes ”, said the president of the company.
Carlos Freire also acknowledged the dedication of all employees: “I present our just tributes to all the people who participated in this journey, in the person of the geologist Evando Carele Barros, one of the pioneers and who still today contributes to INB. In the same way, I would like to thank all our employees, collaborators, who with great determination, commitment and team spirit contributed decisively so that we were able to resume uranium production in Caetité ”.