uranium mines

The Rabbit Lake uranium mine, near the Dene/Cree community of Wollaston Lake in northern Saskatchewan.

This image is from the Graham Defence site.  John Graham is from Haines Junction, Yukon and was an activist against uranium mining. He is currently in South Dakota State Pen in Sioux Falls for the 1975 murder of Anna Mae Aquash. There is a tradition of the FBI extraditing First Nations men from Canada, famously Leonard Pelletier, based on evidence aimed at breaking apart the American Indian Movement.  Graham's is a truly terrible story in its details, but ultimately appears as the borderless reach of the FBI into activist social movements.
In May and June 1984 John Graham did a European speaking tour organised by European anti-nuclear and environmental groups, focussed on native rights and the problems of uranium mining in Canada.

Uranium itself is an element, U; unstable isotopes make it slightly radioactive.  It is dense and occurs in small amounts in soil, rock and water.  Uranium 235 is a natural fissile isotope which can transmute to fissile plutonium 239 in a nuclear reactor.  If I understood more of this process I might be able to understand what Iran is, or is not, doing.  Fission is produced with fast neutrons, and slow neutrons can be speeded up and concentrated to sustain nuclear chain reactions, generating heat and material for weapons.  Depleted uranium is used in armour, as in tanks, because of its density.  Depleted uranium dust released when exploded, during war, releases significant doses of radioactivity.

Uranium City, SaskatchewanUranium city was a 1952 company town for  Eldorado Mining and Refining, a crown corporation that opened a number of mines (52) in northern Saskatchewan.  It was based on the plan for Arvida, Québec, a 1927 ALCAN town.

Uranium mining, like almost all surface mines, come with associated toxic effects for water and people from tailings, which in this case have some residual radioactivity. 500,000 tonnes of waste rock, 100,000 tonnes of tailings, 144 tonnes of solid waste and 1343 m3 of liquid waste produces 25 tonnes of uranium fuel, so reports David Thorpe in the Guardian.  Historical evidence places life expectancy at 20 years after becoming a miner in a uranium mine.