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Mineralogy and geochemistry of a uraniferous coal from the Red Desert Area, Sweetwater County, Wyoming

January 1, 1953

A sample of subbituminous uraniferous coal from the Red Desert, Sweetwater County, Wyo., was studied mineralogically. The coal contains gypsum (6 percent), kaolinite (1 percent), quartz (0.3 percent), calcite (trace), and limonite (trace). This suite of minerals and the absence of pyrite show that the coal has been subjected to weathering and oxidation. No uranium minerals have been found; mechanical fractionation has indicated that the uranium is associated with the organic constituents of the coal. The minerals that have been isolated contain 0.0006 percent uranium, a content which is to be expected for nonuraniferous sedimentary rocks. The organic components of the coal contain approximately 0.002 percent uranium. On the basis of material balance calculations, the organic components carry 98 percent of the uranium in the coal.

Fischer assays of this weathered coal from the Red Desert indicate a yield of 16.7 gallons of tar per ton on low-temperature retorting. In view of the large reserve of subbituminous coal in the Red Desert, its probable ease of mining, and its tar yield, it may be desirable to carry out further evaluation of the coal as a fuel or raw material for the manufacture of tar or chemicals. If economic factors permit utilization of the coal, the uranium, although present in small percentages, could be recovered as a byproduct.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1953
Title Mineralogy and geochemistry of a uraniferous coal from the Red Desert Area, Sweetwater County, Wyoming
DOI 10.3133/tei389
Authors Irving A. Breger, Maurice Deul, Robert Meyrowitz, Samuel Rubinstein
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Trace Elements Investigations
Series Number 389
Index ID tei389
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization