Nuclear Fuel Cycle

Portal Reminder

Note: All information within the portal is confidential to MCA members only and must be viewed and used in accordance with the Terms of Use.

About the Minerals Council of Australia

The MCA is the leading advocate for Australia's world class minerals industry, promoting and enhancing sustainability, profitability and competitiveness. The MCA represents a world-leading minerals sector that is dynamic, diverse, sustainable and valued by all Australians. Read more.

Acknowledgement of Country

The MCA acknowledges and pays its respects to past, present and future Traditional Custodians and Elders and the continuation of cultural, spiritual and educational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website and linked publications may contain images or names of people who have since died.

The nuclear fuel cycle is a series of industrial processes which involve the production of electricity from uranium in nuclear power reactors.

Uranium must be processed before it can be used as fuel for a nuclear reactor. After fuel has reached the end of its useful life and removed from a reactor, it can be reprocessed to produce new fuel.

The cycle starts with the mining of uranium and ends with the disposal of nuclear waste. 

To prepare uranium for use in a nuclear reactor, it undergoes the steps of mining and milling, conversion, enrichment and fuel fabrication – the 'front end' of the nuclear fuel cycle.

After uranium has spent about three years in a reactor to produce electricity, the used fuel may undergo a further series of steps including temporary storage, reprocessing, and recycling before wastes are disposed – the 'back end' of the fuel cycle.

Further information on the various steps of the nuclear fuel cycle can be found here.