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Uraninite is a radioactive, uranium-rich mineral and ore with a chemical composition that is largely UO2, but also contains UO3 and oxides of Lead, Thorium, and rare earth elements. It is most commonly known as pitchblende (from pitch, because of its black color, and blende, a term used by German miners to denote minerals whose density suggested metal content, but whose exploitation was, at the time they were named, either impossible or not economically feasible).

All uraninite minerals contain a small amount of radium as a radioactive decay product of uranium. Uraninite also always contains small amounts of the lead isotopes Pb-206 and Pb-207, the end products of the decay series of the uranium isotopes U-238 and U-235 respectively. Small amounts of helium are also present in uraninite as a result of alpha decay. The extremely rare element technetium can be found in uraninite in very small quantities (about 0.2 ng/kg), produced by the spontaneous fission of uranium-238.

Uraninite is a major ore of Uranium. Uranium ore is generally processed in the area in which it is mined into yellowcake, which is an intermediate step in the processing of uranium.


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