Uranium, a common ore found in the earth's crust, is extracted for use as nuclear fuel in nuclear reactors. Concentrations of uranium are found mainly in North America, Australia, Southern Africa and Central Asia.
The ore (which contains many other minerals) is mined and transported to the uranium mills, normally on the mine site. Here, the ore is ground into a powder and the uranium is separated and purified to produce a dry powder of uranium oxide known as uranium ore concentrate (UOC). These concentrates, generally known as "yellow cake" because of their colour, are then transported (by rail, road and sea) in sealed 210 litre drums in standard sea freight containers to chemical conversion plants.