1924: UM laat RCC te Olen radiumverwerker bouwen

ID: 192400005611

Just before World War I began, a British Army major discovered a rich pitchblende deposit in the Haute Katanga Province of the Belgian Congo. Because the deposit was so remote, because the Belgians were aware of the possibility of a war with Germany, and because they feared that Germany might win the war, the Belgian and British governments kept the discovery secret. Shortly after Germany capitulated, the Belgian mining company Union Miniere du Haut Katanga began developing the Shinkolobwe Mine.(45) The ore from this mine reached the market in 1922. The Congo ore contained so much radium per ton that prices worldwide immediately dropped.

When the president of the Radium Company of Colorado, Arthur H. Bunker, heard of the Congo discovery, he hurried to Europe in 1923.(46) Here he learned the Congo pitchblende ore assayed as high as 80% U3O8, compared to less than 2% for the average Colorado carnotite. Although he knew the end of RCC was in sight, Bunker's survival instincts took over and he convinced the Belgians to let his experienced company design the radium processing plant in Oolen, near Antwerp. RCC designed the Oolen plant using a process design originated by chemist M. Frank Coolbaugh for RCC's sister company in Denver, Metals Exploration Company. RCC ceased operation in 1924, but Metals Exploration Company went into the vanadium business and later rebuilt the old Durango silver smelter into a vanadium-uranium extraction plant. (20031021)

Noot LT: de voetnoten 45 en 46 in bovenstaande tekst verwijzen naar Bruyn, Kathleen, Uranium Country (Boulder: University of Colorado Press, 1955), blz. 10 en 68-70

Land: BEL