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Think Tank Reveals Morocco’s Plan to Extract Uranium from Phosphates


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Morocco, a nation blessed with the world’s largest phosphates deposits, is sitting atop a valuable resource that could revolutionize its water and energy sectors: uranium. The Middle East Institute sheds light on Morocco’s latent uranium wealth, hidden within its vast phosphate reserves, presenting an opportunity to not only power desalination plants but also to export surplus energy.


Michael Tanchum’s insightful paper draws attention to a staggering fact: approximately 73% of global phosphate rock reserves contain an astounding 6.9 million tons of uranium. This figure is even more striking when compared to the 1.9 million tons of uranium found in Australia, home to the world’s largest uranium ore reserves. Morocco’s phosphates, therefore, hold the potential to reshape the energy landscape in unprecedented ways.

Michael Tanchum’s insightful paper draws attention to a staggering fact: approximately 73% of global phosphate rock reserves contain an astounding 6.9 million tons of uranium.

The strategic move to leverage this uranium potential aligns with Morocco’s ambitious efforts to combat water stress, a growing concern in the region. Recognizing the invaluable role that desalination plays in addressing this challenge, Morocco has set its sights on tapping into its uranium reserves to power desalination plants. In doing so, the nation can address both its water scarcity issues and contribute to its energy demands.


Notably, a groundbreaking collaboration took shape when Morocco signed a pivotal deal with a subsidiary of Russian state-owned Rosatom. This partnership aims to explore avenues of cooperation in the domain of nuclear-powered desalination plants. The implications of this partnership extend far beyond Morocco’s borders, potentially opening doors for technological exchange and international collaboration.


However, the true innovation lies not only in the extraction of uranium for energy production but also in the development of technology to harness uranium as a byproduct of phosphate extraction. The paper underscores that the process of recovering uranium from phosphoric acid has already been well established. Remarkably, history echoes this potential, as the author notes that back in the 1980s, a substantial 20% of the United States’ uranium was extracted from phosphoric acid.


The paper by Tanchum serves as a clarion call, inviting the world’s attention to Morocco’s game-changing approach to water and energy challenges. As climate change intensifies water scarcity, nations must proactively seek innovative solutions that transcend traditional boundaries. Morocco’s vision of marrying uranium extraction with desalination technology exemplifies this forward-looking approach.


In conclusion, Morocco’s vast phosphate deposits are poised to unleash a revolution in both water and energy sectors. The synergy between uranium extraction and desalination plants is a testament to the nation’s commitment to sustainable progress.

As Morocco pioneers this transformative journey, international collaboration and technological advancements are likely to follow suit, opening new avenues for addressing pressing global challenges. With the Middle East Institute’s spotlight on this crucial endeavor, the world has a front-row seat to witness the birth of a groundbreaking chapter in water-energy innovation.

Zain Saleem
Zain Saleem
Zain Saleem is an Islamabad-based Senior Journalist

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