Orano explores in Canada’s northern regions, especially around the Athabasca Basin, due to its extremely high grade concentration of uranium ore. Since 1964 we have explored more than 765,000 hectares, and in 2004 became the first uranium company in Saskatchewan to get ISO 140001 certification for exploration.
Searching for uranium
Air: Our crews can discern and measure the physical properties of many minerals and rocks from the air. Aerial surveys provide data about subsurface composition and indicate areas that should be further explored.
Ground: Geologists, geophysicists, and geochemical surveyors make observations on the surface, collect data on physical properties of rocks, and gather rock samples and nearby plant material for further analysis.
Line Cutting: Hand-cut lines cut in forests (up to 1.5 m wide) provide survey grid references and site access. When possible, branches are removed rather than the entire tree.
Drilling: Orano’s exploration teams drill hundreds of metres to obtain samples, with our deepest bore being over 1,000 metres below the surface. It is the most conclusive method of determining the viability of a potential deposit.
Diamond Drilling: To gather sample cores, we use a drill bit covered with industrial diamonds and water-cooled to prevent overheating. As it rotates at the end of the rod or pipe, it cuts a solid core out of the bedrock, which
is extracted for further study.
Directional Drilling: Where possible, Orano uses directional drilling. From a single pilot hole, operators drill in many directions hundreds of metres below the surface, thus minimizing surface disturbances.
Orano currently operates 35 exploration projects through Saskatchewan and Alberta, and 19 joint venture partnerships in the Athabasca Basin.
Orano’s active land holdings in Saskatchewan cover more than 450,000 hectares, and our exploration team has drilled through more than 120 km of ground in the last few years to obtain and analyze thousands of samples.
Learn about our exploration activities in our brochure
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