Source Material Facilities
What We Regulate
Source material facilities process ore concentrates and tin slags to recover valuable metals including uranium, tantalum, niobium, scandium, zirconium, and other rare earths. These metals are used to make capacitors for cellular phones, computers, and other electronic devices. The extraction and refinement processes for metals include chemical precipitation reactions that yield the consolidated metal in powder form that can be processed into metallurgy wire and strips or blended with capacitors and recycled scrap as feed for vacuum melting.
Uranium ore is also processed in a mill to extract uranium (source material). For more information see Uranium Recovery. The uranium is sent to a conversion facility. These source material facilities are also fuel cycle facilities because they are steps in the production of the nuclear fuel used in power reactors. Other source material licensees use depleted uranium to manufacture industrial products, for example, shielding and ballast.
How We Regulate
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regulates source material facilities through a combination of regulatory requirements; licensing; safety oversight (including inspection, assessment of performance, and enforcement); evaluation of operational experience; and regulatory support activities. For details of the first three components, see:
See How We Regulate for more information.
There are approximately 105 NRC-licensed source material facilities. These include uranium mills and some other fuel cycle facilities.