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Uranium prices have been at an all-time low lately, dipping below the $20 per pound mark, causing analysts to speculate when the uranium sector will pick back up again. With its low cost, there are a number of uranium producers who have managed to keep costs low and survive during tough times. 

While sizable uranium deposits are located worldwide, many countries only allow state-owned companies the rights to mine; that means there are fewer publicly traded producers in countries like Kazakhstan and Russia, both of which are high on the list of top uranium-producing countries. There are nevertheless numerous publicly traded uranium-producing companies that investors may want to be aware of.

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Current producers

Here’s a brief overview of some of the top producing companies in 2015.

1. Cameco (TSX:CCO)

2015 uranium production: 14,200 tonnes

Cameco accounts  for approximately 18 percent of  global uranium production from its mines in Canada, the US and Kazakhstan. In the US, there is the Smith Ranch-Highland mine in Wyoming’s Powder River basin and the Crow Butte mine in Nebraska.  In Canada, the company has 69.8-percent ownership of the world's largest uranium mine, McArthur River, and a 50-percent stake in the world’s second-largest high-grade uranium deposit, Cigar Lake, in the Athabasca Basin.

Total uranium production for 2015 was 14,200 tonnes, a 22 percent increase from the previous year. The McArthur River is allegedly the world's largest high-grade uranium mine while the Key Lake is the largest uranium mill.

Between 2000 and 2015, Cameco's total production from the McArthur River/Key Lake totals roughly 291.1 million pounds with 234.9 million pounds of estimated reserves. In 2015, production at Cigar Lake was 5.7 million pounds. Cameco has a licensed capacity of 9 million pounds per year (a 50 percent interest of 18 million pounds).

Cameco also holds a 60-percent interest in the Inkai ISR mine in Kazakhstan, with the remaining 40 percent owned by Kazatomprom. In 2015, total production was 5.8 million pounds, with Cameco's shares being 3.4 million pounds. The mine's production was 17 percent higher than it was in 2014.

2. AREVA (EPA:AREVA)

2015 uranium production: 11,002 tonnes

AREVA is active in five continents exploring for new deposits as well as mining and milling uranium ore. According to its website, the company had a market share of close to 16 percent in 2015, making it one of the largest uranium producers in the world.  Currently, AREVA has operating mines in Canada, Kazakhstan and Niger, and currently has projects under development in Africa.

AREVA owns a 51-percent stake in the world's second-largest mines, Tortkuduk and Myunkum in Kazakhstan. The mines are operated through a joint venture between AREVA and Kazatomprom, a partnership that is known as KATCO and was formed in 1996.

In 2015, AREVA produced 11,002 tonnes of uranium–a significant increase from its 8,959 tonnes produced in 2014.

3. BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP)

2015 uranium production: 3,144 tonnes

BHP's Olympic Dam uranium mine in Australia is one of the largest in the world, having produced 3,144 tonnes of uranium for BHP's 2015 fiscal year. However, times are tough for the world's biggest miner, having announced a net loss of $6.4 billion for 2015-2016. The loss is reportedly the company's worst ever full-year result, in part due to weak commodity prices.

In July 2016, BHP announced the reaffirmation of an underground expansion pathway for the Olympic Dam copper-uranium mine.

4. Uranium One (TSX:UUU)

2015 uranium production: 6,250 tonnes

Uranium One holds the Willow Creek ISR mine in Wyoming, which includes the licensed and permitted Irigaray ISR central processing plant, the Christensen Ranch satellite ISR facility and associated uranium ore bodies. Commercial production at Willow Creek began in 2012 and its current design capacity is 1.3 million pounds of U3O8 per year.

Total attributable production of uranium by Uranium One in 2015 was 6,250 tonnes, which is an increase from its 5,200 attributable production in 2014.

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5. Paladin Energy (TSX:PDN)

2015 uranium production: 2,457 tonnes

Paladin Energy is a uranium production company with projects currently in Australia and two mines in Africa. Its Langer Heinrich mine, located in Namibia, is another massive uranium producer, and its accounting production totaled roughly 2,457 tonnes in 2015.

Ur-Energy also owns the rights to two other uranium projects in Wyoming: Lost Soldier and Lucky Mc.

Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO)

2015 uranium production: 1,057 tonnes

Rio Tinto's 68.58-percent-owned Rössing mine in Namibia is the world’s longest-running open-pit uranium mine. It began operating in 1976 and has produced the most uranium of any single mine to date.

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6. Ur-Energy (NYSE:URG)

2015 uranium production: 391.77 tonnes

Ur-Energy operates the Lost Creek in-situ recovery uranium facility, which is located in Wyoming.  The facility has a two million pounds per year of physical design capacity. In 2015, the company captured 391.778 tonnes of uranium. Despite tough market conditions, the company continued its focus on moving production into sales at the Lost Creek mine.

7. Energy Fuels (TSX:EFR; NYSE:UUUU)

2015 uranium production: 234 tonnes

Energy Fuels is the second-largest supplier of uranium in the US and the owner of the White Mesa mill, the only fully licensed and operating conventional uranium mill located in the US. The company has various uranium properties in the US, including the Roca Honda project in New Mexico, Sheep Mountain, Uranerz, Nichols Ranch ISR mine and plant in Wyoming, the Wate project, and the Canyon Mine in Arizona, and Henry Mountains, La Sal and Daneros, all located in Utah.

On June 17, 2016, Energy Fuels announced the completed acquisition of Mesteña Uranium, adding the third US production centre to its portfolio. In September, the company announced its operational update and production guidance for 2017, with a goal to become the largest uranium producer in the United States.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time news updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Jocelyn Aspa, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Editorial Disclosure: Energy Fuels is a client of the Investing News Network. This article is not paid for content. 

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 This article is updated each year. Please scroll to the top for most recent information.

Although the low uranium price has made it difficult for some companies to stay afloat, there are uranium producers around the world that are managing to keep their costs low enough to survive until the anticipated supply deficit hits the space.

While sizable uranium deposits are located worldwide, many countries only allow state-owned companies the rights to mine; that means there are fewer publicly traded producers in countries like Kazakhstan and Russia, both of which are high on the list of top uranium-producing countries. There are nevertheless numerous publicly traded uranium-producing companies that investors may want to be aware of. Here’s a brief overview.

Current producers

These companies are currently producing large amounts of uranium.

1. Cameco

2014 uranium production: 10,568 tonnes

Cameco (TSX:CCO,NYSE:CCJ) has producing uranium mines in both Canada and the US. In the US, there is the Smith Ranch-Highland mine in Wyoming’s Powder River basin and the Crow Butte mine in Nebraska. Up north, the company has 69.8-percent ownership of the world's largest uranium mine, McArthur River, and a 50-percent stake in the world’s second-largest high-grade uranium deposit, Cigar Lake, located in the Athabasca Basin.

To date, McArthur River has yielded 269.7 million pounds of uranium, and accounts for 13 percent of the world's total output. It also holds over 1 million tonnes of proven plus probable reserves. In 2014, annual production at Smith Ranch-Highland, which is the largest US producer, came to 2.1 million pounds of U3O8; during the same period, Crow Butte produced 600,000 pounds of U3O8.

Cameco also holds a 60-percent interest in the Inkai ISR mine in Kazakhstan, with the remaining 40 percent owned by Kazatomprom. Cameco’s share includes 45.6 million pounds of proven and probable reserves, and the mine generated 3 percent of last year’s uranium output.

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2. AREVA

2014 uranium production: 8,959 tonnes

France’s AREVA (EPA:AREVA) holds stakes in various uranium properties around the world and continues to make deals with other large companies like China National Nuclear (CNNC). The company's subsidiary, AREVA Resources Canada, owns 30.2 percent of world's largest uranium mine, McArthur River. AREVA also owns a 51-percent stake in the world's second-largest mines, Tortkuduk and Myunkum in Kazakhstan. The mines are operated through a joint venture between AREVA and Kazatomprom, a partnership that is known as KATCO and was formed in 1996.

What's more, the SOMAIR mines, a collection of open-pit mining operations located in Niger, are majority owned and operated by AREVA. The mines equated to 5 percent of the world's output in 2014, producing 2,331 tonnes of uranium.

3. BHP Billiton

2014 uranium production: 3,351 tonnes

BHP's (ASX:BHP,NYSE:BHP,LSE:BLT) Olympic Dam uranium mine in Australia is one of the largest in the world — it produced 3,351 tonnes of uranium in 2014 and accounted for 6 percent of the world's total output.

However, the low uranium price has taken a toll on BHP. In August, the company announced plans to cut 380 jobs at its Olympic Dam copper-uranium mine in Australia due in part to global market conditions. Prior to that, the Svedala mill, which is part of Olympic Dam, experienced an electrical failure, leading to a drop in output. A return to full production is anticipated by the end of the September 2015 quarter.

4. Uranium One

2014 uranium production: 4,717 tonnes

Uranium One (TSX:UUU) holds the Willow Creek ISR mine in Wyoming, which includes the licensed and permitted Irigaray ISR central processing plant, the Christensen Ranch satellite ISR facility and associated uranium ore bodies. Commercial production at Willow Creek began in 2012 and its current design capacity is 1.3 million pounds of U3O8 per year.

Uranium One also holds a 50-percent interest in Budenovskoye 2, a mine in Kazakhstan that produced 2,084 tonnes in 2014, the equivalent to 4 percent of the world's uranium.

5. Paladin Energy

2014 uranium production: 3,602 tonnes

Paladin Energy's (TSX:PDN,ASX:PDN) Langer Heinrich mine, located in Namibia, is another massive uranium producer. With output of 1,947 tonnes in 2014, the mine accounted for 4 percent of the world's uranium output. In July 2014, CNNC Overseas Uranium Holding, a wholly owned subsidiary of CNNC, bought a 25-percent stake in the mine.

Ur-Energy also owns the rights to two other uranium projects in Wyoming: Lost Soldier and Lucky Mc.

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6. Rio Tinto

2014 uranium production: 1,308 tonnes

Rio Tinto's (NYSE:RIO,ASX:RIO,LSE:RIO) 68.58-percent-owned Rössing mine in Namibia is the world’s longest-running open-pit uranium mine. It began operating in 1976 and has produced the most uranium of any single mine to date.

7. Energy Fuels

2014 uranium production: 453 tonnes

Energy Fuels (TSX:EFR,NYSEMKT:UUUU) is the second-largest supplier of uranium in the US and the owner of the White Mesa mill, the only fully licensed and operating conventional uranium mill located in the US. The company has various uranium properties in the US, including the Roca Honda project in New Mexico, Sheep Mountain in Wyoming, the Wate project in Arizona and Henry Mountains, La Sal and Daneros, all located in Utah.

Energy Fuels acquired Uranerz and all its assets in June, including the Nichols Ranch ISR mine and plant in Wyoming. The company increased output at Nichols Ranch in July, boosting total uranium production there by 25 percent after commencing production at the fifth header house at the facility.

8. Ur-Energy

2014 uranium production: 270 tonnes

Ur-Energy (TSX:URE,NYSEMKT:URG) has two US uranium projects located in Wyoming: Lost Creek and Shirley Basin. In May, the company announced an increased mineral resource estimate for Lost Creek, adding 2.308 million pounds of uranium averaging 0.058 percent U3O8 — that represents a 95-percent increase. Lost Creek, which has been producing since 2013, also hit a major milestone recently when it shipped out its millionth pound of uranium in the second quarter.

9. Denison Mines 

2014 uranium production: 11 tonnes (McClean Lake)

Denison Mines (TSX:DML) is an exploration, development and uranium production company that has various projects located in Canada, Zambia, Namibia and Mongolia. In 2014, the company's portion of production at the McClean Lake joint venture totaled 11 tonnes.  Denison made a lot of progress at its projects in 2014, discovering a new high-grade area at the Wheeler River property, expanding its Phoenix deposit and acquiring 30 percent interest in the Mann Lake exploration property.

More recently, the company announced its plans to merge with Fission Uranium (TSX:FCU), which will create a new uranium company called Denison Energy and will consolidate Denison’s projects in the US Midwest and Fission’s Patterson Lake South (PLS) project in the Athabasca Basin. While shareholders have yet to approve the merger, both companies, as well as independent proxy advisory firms, have recommended shareholders vote in favor at the upcoming special meetings on October 14.

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Waiting in the wings

While not currently producing, these companies have projects that could come online in the near future.

1. Peninsula Energy

2014 uranium production: 0 tonnes

Although Peninsula Energy (ASX:PEN) is not yet producing, the Australia-based company's Lance projects in Wyoming are expected to begin operating in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Peninsula currently has two sales contracts set up, both of which were made for prices higher than the current uranium spot price. The first deal was made back in 2011 with one of the largest producers of energy in the US and is a long-term agreement to supply 1,150,000 pounds over a period of seven years. The second was made this past December, again with a large US utility company, for up to 912,500 pounds to be delivered from 2016 to 2024. The Lance projects have a current resource of 53.7 million pounds of U3O8 with the potential for more.

2. Uranium Resources

2014 uranium production: 0 tonnes

Uranium Resources (NASDAQ:URRE) controls about 212,000 acres of uranium mineral holdings in Texas and New Mexico. In Texas, there are the Kingsville Dome and Rosita projects; the two projects have combined reserves over 600,000 pounds within 400,000 tonnes at an average grade of approximately 0.08 percent. The company had a third mine called Vasquez, which produced 590,200 pounds of uranium from 2004 to 2008. The company’s two processing facilities at the Kingsville Dome and Rosita projects are on standby for a restart of production when there is a sustained improvement in the uranium market.

In June, Uranium Resources announced that it will be merging with Anatolia Energy (ASX:AEK) to expand its portfolio in Texas.

Did we miss a uranium-producing company worth noting? Let us know in the comments.

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Securities Disclosure: I, Kristen Moran, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Related reading:

Athabasca Basin Uranium Companies to Watch

Uranium Mining in the United States

Fission Hits High-Grades At R840W Zone

Fission Uranium (TSX:FCU) has announced final summer assay results show new high grade mineralization at the R840W outside of the Triple R source and at the R780E zone, under the Triple R deposit at the Patterson Lake South property.

As quoted in the press release:
The assay results include hole PLS16-504 on

Fission Hits High-Grades at Both Ends of 2.63km Trend

Fission Uranium (TSX:FCU) has announced that assay results confirm new high grade mineralization at two zones presently outside the Triple R resource area (R840W, R1620E) at its Paterson Lake South Property.

As quoted in the press release:
The assay results include hole PLS16-485 on zone R1620E (line 1515E) with 7.5m @ 12.90%

Fission Connects R600W and R840W Zones With High Grade Intercept

KELOWNA, BRITISH COLUMBIA–(Marketwired – Aug. 18, 2016) – FISSION URANIUM CORP. (TSX:FCU)(OTCQX:FCUUF)(FRANKFURT:2FU) (“Fission” or “the Company”) is pleased to announce results from the summer drill program for the final 8 drill holes on the R840W zone at its PLS property, host to the Triple R deposit, in Canada’s Athabasca Basin

Fission Hits Multiple High-Grade Holes at Both Ends of 2.58km Trend

KELOWNA, BRITISH COLUMBIA–(Marketwired – Aug. 2, 2016) – FISSION URANIUM CORP. (TSX:FCU)(OTCQX:FCUUF)(FRANKFURT:2FU) (“Fission” or “the Company”) is pleased to announce results from nine holes at its award-winning PLS project, host to the shallow, high-grade Triple R deposit, in Canada’s Athabasca Basin region: four holes drilled on R840W zone, four on

Fission Hits 7.1m of >10,000 cps at R1620E; Narrows Gap Between Zones

KELOWNA, BRITISH COLUMBIA–(Marketwired – July 18, 2016) – FISSION URANIUM CORP. (TSX:FCU)(OTCQX:FCUUF)(FRANKFURT:2FU) (“Fission” or “the Company”) is pleased to announce results from six holes at its’ award-winning PLS project, host to the shallow, high-grade Triple R deposit, in Canada’s Athabasca Basin region: three holes drilled on the R840W zone and

Fission Drills Now Turning at PLS; Focus on New Zones and Regional Exploration

KELOWNA, BRITISH COLUMBIA–(Marketwired – July 7, 2016) – FISSION URANIUM CORP. (TSX:FCU)(OTCQX:FCUUF)(FRANKFURT:2FU) (“Fission” or “the Company”) is pleased to announce that summer drilling has now commenced at PLS, with drill rigs now in full operation.

Program Focus

Resource Growth and Regional Exploration Drilling

Growing and connecting the new high-grade zones on the western

Uranium Spot Price Update

Uranium Spot Price Update

The uranium spot price has declined in the past year, but higher nuclear demand from China, India and the UAE are expected to give the metal a boost in its prices.

Fission Exploration Holes Hit Wide, High Grade Mineralization 2.34km Apart

FISSION URANIUM CORP. (TSX:FCU)(OTCQX:FCUUF)(FRANKFURT:2FU)(“Fission” or “the Company”) is pleased to announce it has hit new high grade mineralization at four zones (R840W, R600W, R780E and R1620E) at its PLS property, host to the Triple R deposit, in Canada’s Athabasca Basin region.

According to the news:
The assay results include hole PLS16-460 on

Fission Uranium Corp. (TSX:FCU,OTCQX:FCUUF) announced assay results from nine holes completed at its PLS property in Saskatchewan's Athabasca Basin. Holes were completed at three different zones, and high grades were intersected at all zones.

Highlights include:

R840W zone (not included in Triple R deposit)

PLS15-445 (line 840W) key interval:

  • 29.0m @ 1.14% U3O8 (189.0m to 218.0m), including:
    • 2.0m @ 11.53% U3O8 (211.0m to 213.0m)

R600W Zone (not included in Triple R deposit)

PLS15-449 (line 660W) key interval:

  • 37.0m @ 0.72% U3O8 (104.0m to 141.0m), including:
    • 4.0m @ 1.67% U3O8 (115.5m to 119.5m)

R780W Zone (included in Triple R deposit)

PLS15-455 (line 510E) key interval:

  • 44.0m @ 4.08% U3O8 (88.0m to 132.0m), including:
    • 4.5m @ 23.03% U3O8 (118.5m to 123.0m)
    • 2.0m @ 17.63% U3O8 (125.5m to 127.5m)

Ross McElroy, president, COO and chief geologist at Fission, commented:

Our first batch of winter assays has confirmed high-grade mineralization at three zones, including the new R840W zone and the R600W zone - both of which are shallow, land-based and because of their early stage drilling, have not been included in the resource estimate of the Triple R deposit. In addition, we are continuing to see growth at the Triple R deposit with shallow, wide, high-grade mineralization. Overall a very strong start to the assays and, as we move forward, the data will be used to help plan the summer exploration and resource growth drill programs at PLS.

Click here to read the full Fission Uranium Corp. (TSX:FCU,OTCQX:FCUUF) press release.

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