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The History of Mining: The events, technology and people involved in the industry that forged the modern world by Michael Coulson

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13. The Rise of Uranium

One of the most controversial minerals in the latter half of the 20th century was undoubtedly uranium. The modern uses of uranium in nuclear weapons (atomic and hydrogen bombs) and in nuclear power stations is well known, but it was used in its natural state as pitchblende over 1,000 years before that to make yellow ceramics and later yellow glass.

In these early days German miners were the sole European producers of the mineral. Martin Klaproth, a German chemist, discovered uranium in pitchblende in 1789; French chemist, Eugene Peligot, was the first man to isolate the uranium; and Anton Becquerel, a French physicist, discovered that uranium was radioactive in 1896. The work of these three was vital in preparing the ...

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