Largest Producers of Uranium

Uranium is produced all around the world–here is a look at the top uranium producing countries of 2015.

World's Uranium Production

Uranium production has steadily risen over the years, increasing by over 4,000 tonnes from 2014 to 2015. In 2015, the world’s total uranium production was 60,514 tonnes.

This number represents a significant spike from the 56,041 tonnes produced in 2014, as well as from the 59,331 tonnes produced in 2013.

Here’s a look at the 10 top uranium-producing countries of 2015, as per statistics from the World Nuclear Association. This article will be updated when new information becomes available.

1. Kazakhstan

Mine production: 23,800 tonnes

Once again, Kazakhstan is the world’s leading producer of uranium. The country has steadily rose in production since 2009 through to 2015, with 39 percent of world production last year. In 2015, Kazakhstan produced 23,800 tonnes, which is a significant leap from 2014’s 23,127 tonnes. The country’s government is planning to build a Russian nuclear power reactor, possibly at Kurchatov, by 2025.

Kazakhstan holds 12 percent of the world’s uranium resources with an expanding mine sector and is planning to increase that by 2018.

2. Canada

Mine production: 13,325 tonnes

For a number of years, Canada was the largest producer of uranium, with 22 percent of global output. However, it has fallen down to second place in recent years. In 2015, Canada produced 13,325 tonnes, a significant increase from 2014’s 2014 production of 9,134. This is mostly due Cameco’s (TSX:CCO) Cigar Lake mine that coming into full operation last year. Other production came from the McArthur River mine. Both projects are in northern Saskatchewan.

3. Australia

Mine production: 5,672 tonnes

Uranium production in Australia saw a significant leap as well in 2015. Last year, the country produced 5,672 tonnes of uranium, a drastic increase from 2014’s production of 5,001. However there is still a ways to go before Australia reaches its 2013 production of 6,350 tonnes. In 2013, the country’s Honeymoon mine was shut down pending a better uranium price. The main Beverley (and North Beverley) wellfields were shut down shortly after Honeymoon.

While Australia holds the largest uranium resource of any country—and according to Mining Weekly has the potential to earn AU$2 billion annually—mining bans and restrictions in various states prevent much mining from happening there.

4. Niger

Mine production: 4,057 tonnes

Niger produced 4,057 tonnes of uranium in 2015, which is a small but gradual increase from 2014’s production of 4,057 tonnes. The country has two significant uranium mines in production accounting for 7.5 percent of world mining output from Africa’s highest-grade uranium ores. It should be noted there is strong government backing for expanding mining operations; that has led to plans for additional mines and prospects in the future.

Of these new mines, GoviEx Uranium’s (TSXV:GXU) Madaouela project will be a promising addition once it begins production; that is expected to happen in 2017 or 2018.

5. Russia

Mine production: 3,055 tonnes

Moving up from sixth place to fifth is Russia, which produced 3,055 tonnes of uranium in 2015. Its 2014 output was 2,990, so the increase isn’t that vast, although the country is expected to increase its production in the coming years. Political and economic objectives in Russia are to increase exports, including nuclear power plants.

Talks of sanctions against Russia being gradually lifted will likely alleviate some of its production woes. Meanwhile, Rosatom State Atomic Energy, the country’s nuclear power company, said it aims to be one of the top global players in the sector despite sanctions from the west.

6. Namibia

Mine production: 2,993 tonnes

Namiba’s uranium production continues seeing a drop, falling from 3,255 in 2014 to 2,993 in 2015. Before that, it sank to 3,255 tonnes from 4,323 tonnes in 2013. The country has two uranium mines that are capable of producing 10 percent of the world’s output.

Considering the country receives half its power from South Africa, which has power constraints of its own, Namibia faces serious electricity challenges. Luckily, the country’s government has expressed an interest in supplying its own electricity through new nuclear power resources. As yet, no progress has been made towards this goal.

7. Uzbekistan

Mine production: 2,385 tonnes

In 2015, Uzbekistan produced an estimated 2,385 tonnes of uranium, which is a slight drop from 2014’s 2,400 tonnes produced. Although the country is seventh in terms of world uranium supply, it is expanding production with Japanese and Chinese joint ventures currently active in uranium development.

Navoi Mining & Metallurgy Combinat (NMMC) is part of state holding company Kyzylkumredmetzoloto, and handles all the country’s uranium-mining activities. In April 2015, NMMC announced the government had approved plans to implement 27 projects to modernize its production facilities by 2019.

8. China

Mine production: 1,616 tonnes 

Uranium production in China has remained relatively stable over the past few years with 1,500 tonnes produced for each year between 2012 and 2014 before rising slightly to 1,616 tonnes in 2015. The country is making plans to expand its production, with many state-owned enterprises acquiring uranium resources within China, as well as internationally.

Currently, domestic uranium mining supplies less than a quarter of China’s nuclear fuel needs, and the country aims to take steps to be self sufficient in most aspects of its fuel cycle. Mainland China has 35 operating nuclear power reactors, with 20 under construction, and more on the way.

9. United States

Mine production: 1,256 tonnes

Uranium mining in the US saw a significant drop in 2015, falling from 1,919 tonnes produced all the way down to 1,256 tonnes.

Uranium mining in the US is currently performed by a only few companies, although there are a number of uranium explorers. The White Mesa mine in Utah is fed by four or five underground mines and several in-situ leach operations, covering all US uranium production.

10. Ukraine

Mine production: 926 tonnes

Last on the list is the Ukraine, which saw a leap from 926 tonnes produced in 2014 to an even 1,200 tonnes of uranium produced in 2015. Ukraine also saw an increase in its uranium production from 2013 to 2014, though not very much—the country produced 926 tonnes of uranium in 2014, slightly more than the 922 tonnes produced in 2013.

In 2004, the Ukraine commissioned two large new sectors and the government plans to maintain nuclear share in electricity production to 2013, which will involve building substantially more new nuclear reactors.

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This article is updated each year. Please see the top of the page for the most recent information.

Uranium production has steadily increased over the years. In 2014, the world’s total production was 56,217 tonnes of uranium.

This number falls short of the 59,370 tonnes produced in 2013, as well as the 58,394 tonnes produced in 2012. The decline was not limited to one country, but spread across the world.

Here’s a look at the 10 top uranium-producing countries of 2014, as per statistics from the World Nuclear Association.

1. Kazakhstan

Mine production: 23,127 tonnes

Kazakhstan has been the world’s leading producer of uranium since 2009, when it produced almost 28 percent of the global total. In 2014, the country produced 23,127 tonnes, an increase from 2013′s 22,451 tonnes. Kazakhstan has expressed its intent to ramp up production efforts through 2018, with 17 mines currently in production.

All of the uranium exploration and mining in the country is controlled by state-owned Kazatomprom — that includes all import and export activity. The company has strategic alliances with Russia, Japan and China, and holds an interest in international nuclear company Westinghouse Electric Company.

2. Canada

Mine production: 9,134 tonnes

Canada produced 9,134 tonnes of uranium in 2014, a dip from the 9,331 tonnes it produced in 2013. However, the country’s uranium output is expected to significantly increase in 2015 when the Cigar Lake mine comes into full operation. The mine, which is 50-percent owned by Cameco (TSX:CCO,NYSE:CCJ), has proven plus probable reserves of 234.9 million pounds U3O8.

3. Australia

Mine production: 5,001 tonnes

Australia’s uranium production has dropped for the past two years, reaching 5,001 tonnes in 2014. This significant fall came after the country produced 6,350 tonnes in 2013 and 6,991 tonnes in 2012. In 2013, the country’s Honeymoon mine was shut down pending a better uranium price. The main Beverley (and North Beverley) wellfields were shut down shortly after Honeymoon.

While Australia holds the largest uranium resource of any country and according to Mining Weekly has the potential to earn AU$2 billion annually, mining bans and restrictions in various states prevent much mining from happening there.

4. Niger

Mine production: 4,057 tonnes

Niger produced 4,057 tonnes of uranium in 2014, a large decrease from 2013′s 4,518 tonnes. The country has two significant uranium mines in production, yet there is strong government backing for expanding mining operations; that has led to plans for additional mines and prospects in the future.

Of these new mines, GoviEx Uranium’s (CSE:GXU) Madaouela project will be a promising addition once it begins production; that is expected to happen in 2017 or 2018. The project’s measured and indicated mineral resource was recently increased to 110.76 million pounds U3O8, while its inferred resource sits at 27.66 million pounds U3O8.

5. Namibia

Mine production: 3,255 tonnes

Namibia’s uranium production also saw a severe drop in 2014, sinking to 3,255 tonnes from 4,323 tonnes the previous year. The country has two uranium mines that are capable of producing 10 percent of the world’s output.

Considering the country receives half its power from South Africa, which has power constraints of its own, it faces serious electricity challenges. Luckily the government, which is a proponent of expanding mine production, has expressed an interest in supplying its own electricity through new nuclear power resources; as yet no progress has been made towards this goal.

6. Russia

Mine production: 2,990 tonnes

Russia produced 2,990 tonnes of uranium in 2014, while its 2013 output was 3,135 tonnes. The country is expected to increase its production in the coming years, and is focused on generating additional revenue from exports. This goal is motivated politically as well as economically.

Talks of sanctions against Russia being gradually lifted will likely alleviate some of its production woes; however, Rosatom State Atomic Energy, the country’s nuclear power company, said it aims to be one of the top global players in the sector despite sanctions from the west.

7. Uzbekistan

Mine production: 2,400 tonnes

In 2014, Uzbekistan produced 2,400 tonnes of uranium, fairly even compared to the last few years. Most of the country’s uranium mining occurs in the Navoi region, with the mines being linked by railway.

Navoi Mining & Metallurgy Combinat (NMMC) is part of state holding company Kyzylkumredmetzoloto, and handles all the country’s uranium-mining activity. In April 2015, NMMC announced the government had approved plans to implement 27 projects to modernize its production facilities by 2019.

8. United States

Mine production: 1,919 tonnes

The US was one of the few countries to increase its uranium production in 2014, and has actually been relatively consistent in its increases over the years. In 2014, the country produced 1,919 tonnes of uranium, a jump from 2013′s 1,792 tonnes.

Uanium mining in the US is currently only performed by a few companies, while exploration is handled by many. The White Mesa mine in Utah is fed by four or five underground mines and several in-situ leach operations, covering all US uranium production.

9. China

Mine production: 1,500 tonnes

China’s uranium production has remained constant over the past few years, totaling 1,500 tonnes in 2012, 2013 and 2014. The country is making plans to expand its production, with many state-owned enterprises acquiring uranium resources within China, as well as internationally.

Currently, domestic uranium mining supplies less than a quarter of China’s nuclear fuel needs, and the country aims to take steps to be self sufficient in most aspects of its fuel cycle. Currently, 26 nuclear reactors are being built on home soil.

10. Ukraine

Mine production: 926 tonnes

Ukraine also saw an increase in its uranium production from 2013 to 2014, though not very much. In 2014, the country produced 926 tonnes of uranium, slightly more than the 922 tonnes produced in 2013. Ukraine is largely dependent on nuclear energy, with 15 reactors generating approximately half of its electricity. To increase its fuel for nuclear power, the country is open to foreign investment to increase uranium production.


 

(September 21, 2014)

2013 Top 10 Uranium-producing Countries

Soft uranium prices may have put a dent in the uranium market, but they certainly haven’t stopped production. Here’s a look at 2013′s top 10 uranium-producing countries and their largest mines.

Numbers are based on statistics from the World Nuclear Association.

Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan retained its spot as the world’s largest uranium producer for the fifth year in a row. In 2013, the country produced 28 percent of the world’s supply of uranium from mines, putting out 22,574 tons.

Kazakhstan’s largest mine is Tortkuduk, owned by Katco, a joint venture between AREVA (EPA:AREVA) and Kazatomprom. The mine produces uranium through in-situ leaching, or ISL, and produced 2,563 tons in 2013.

Canada

Canada was the world’s second-largest uranium producer in 2013, accounting for 16 percent of production of uranium from mines. In total, the country produced 9,332 tons of uranium last year, an increase over 2012. At one time Canada was the largest uranium producer in the world, but it lost that place to Kazakhstan in 2009.

Its largest uranium-producing mine is McArthur River, which is owned by Cameco (TSX:CCO,NYSE:CCJ). It is an underground operation and produced 7,744 tons of uranium in 2013. The McArthur River mine is in Saskatchewan, like all of Canada’s operating uranium mines.

Australia

Australia produced 11 percent of the world’s uranium from mines in 2013, with a total production level of 6,350 tons. The country’s largest mine, Olympic Dam, is owned by BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP,ASX:BHP,LSE:BLT) and produced 3,399 tons of uranium in 2013. It is a by-product and underground operation. According to the World Nuclear Association, Australia has the largest amount of known uranium resources in the world, amounting to 31 percent of the global total.

Niger

Niger produced 4,528 tons of uranium in 2013. The country only began to produce uranium commercially in 1971, and already produces 7.5 percent of the world’s uranium from mines. It has the highest grades of uranium ore in Africa, according to the World Nuclear Association, as well as strong governmental support for expansion in the industry.

Its largest mine is SOMAIR, owned by AREVA. It produced 2,730 tons in 2013. Both SOMAIR and COMINAK, the country’s other uranium mine, were shut down for maintenance at the end of 2013 and still await the renewal of their licenses.

Namibia

In 2013, Namibia produced 4,315 tons of uranium. The country has two significant uranium mines, one of which is Langer Heinrich. The mine, owned by Paladin Energy (TSX:PDN,ASX:PDN), is an open-pit operation that produced 2,098 tons of uranium in 2013. Commercial production of uranium in Namibia began in 1976, nearly half a century after uranium was discovered in the Namib Desert.

Russia

Russia produced 3,135 tons of uranium in 2013. The country has about 10 percent of the world’s uranium resources, as per the World Nuclear Association. Russia also has substantial reserves of uranium. Priargunsky, owned by AtomRedMetZoloto, or ARMZ, is an underground mine that produced 2,133 tons of uranium in 2013. It is the country’s largest uranium mine. ARMZ is a state-owned company that took over existing uranium mining and exploration assets between 2007 and 2008.

Uzbekistan

In 2013, Uzbekistan produced 2,400 tons of uranium. Uzbekistan accounted for a large part of Russia’s uranium supply until it achieved its independence in 1991, along with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Now, the country mines most of its uranium in its central region. Its mining directorate #5, largely in Bukhara province with headquarters in Zafarabad, is the most productive region, accounting for up to 2,100 tons of uranium each year. The mines in mining directorate #5 are North and South Bukinay, Beshkak, Istiklol, Kukhnur, Lyavlyakan, Tokhumbet and South Sugraly.

USA

The United States ranks ninth in the world for known uranium resources, and had about 207,400 tons of reasonably assured resources as of 2011. In 2013, the country produced 1,835 tons of uranium. Uranium mining has gone on in the US since the 1950s, when it was backed by government subsidies. Now, the US produces less uranium than it uses, importing the rest; it plans to expand its domestic production.

In 2013, the US operated six ISL uranium operations and three underground mines. The top-producing mine in 2013 was the Smith Ranch-Highland ISL site, owned by Cameco.

China

China produced an estimated 1,450 tons of uranium in 2013. The country wants to produce one-third of its uranium domestically, and is working toward this goal by increasing its mining activity. Its largest mine is the Fuzhou project in Jiangxi province. It’s an underground mine with a nominal capacity of 500 tons a year.

Malawi

Rounding out the top 10 uranium-producing countries, Malawi produced 1,132 tons of uranium in 2013. Up until 2009 the country was not known as a uranium producer. Its largest mine is the Kayelekera project in Northern Malawi, owned by Paladin Energy. The mine produced all of Malawi’s uranium in 2013. The mine is currently not producing and is on care and maintenance as a consequence of low uranium prices.

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