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Information Papers

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World Uranium Mining

(June 2009)

Canada produces the largest share of uranium from mines (20.5% of world supply from mines), followed by Kazakhstan (19.4%) and Australia(19.2%). 

Production from mines (tonnes U)

Country
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
Canada
11604
10457
11597
11628
9862
9476
9000
Kazakhstan
2800
3300
3719
4357
5279
6637
8521
Australia
6854
7572
8982
9516
7593
8611
8430
Namibia
2333
2036
3038
3147
3067
2879
4366
Russia (est)
2900
3150
3200
3431
3262
3413
3521
 Niger
3075
3143
3282
3093
3434
3153
3032
Uzbekistan
1860
1598
2016
2300
2260
2320
2338
USA
919
779
878
1039
1672
1654
1430
Ukraine (est)
800
800
800
800
800
846
800
China (est)
730
750
750
750
750
712
769
South Africa
824
758
755
674
534
539
655
 Brazil
270
310
300
110
190
299
330
India (est)
230
230
230
230
177
270
271
Czech Repub.
465
452
412
408
359
306
263
Romania (est)
90
90
90
90
90
77
77
 Germany
212
150
150
77
50
38
77
Pakistan (est)
38
45
45
45
45
45
45
France
20
0
7
7
5
4
5
total world
 36063 35613 40251 41702 39429 41279 43 930
tonnes U3O8
42 529
41 998
47 468
49 179
46 499
48 680 51 807
WNA Market Report data

 

Forecast production for 2009 is 49,375 tU, as eight new mines are scheduled to start production.

Mining methods have been changing. In 1990, 55% of world production came from underground mines, but this shrunk dramatically to 1999, with 33% then. From 2000 the new Canadian mines increase it again, and with Olympic Dam it is now around half.  In situ leach mining has been steadily increasing its share of the total.

In 2008 production was as follows:

conventional underground & open pit 62%
in situ leach (ISL) 28%
by-product 10%


(considering Olympic Dam as by-product rather than in underground category)

Since the early 1990s the uranium production industry has been consolidated by takeovers, mergers and closures. In 2008, ten companies marketed 87% of the world's uranium mine production:

Company tonnes U %
Rio Tinto
7975
18
Cameco
6659
15
Areva
6318
14
KazAtomProm
5328
12
ARMZ
3688
8
BHP Billiton
3344
8
Navoi
2338
5
Uranium One
1107
3
Paladin
917
2
GA/ Heathgate
636
1
other
5620
13
Total
43,930
100%

  

The largest-producing uranium mines in 2008 were:

Mine Country Main owner Type Production (tU) % of world
McArthur River
Canada
Cameco
underground
6383
15
Ranger
Australia
ERA (Rio Tinto 68%)
open pit
4527
10
Rossing
Namibia
Rio Tinto (69%)
open pit
3449
8
Olympic Dam
Australia
BHP Billiton
by-product/
underground
3344
8
Kraznokamensk
Russia
ARMZ
underground
3050
7
 Arlit
Niger
Areva/Onarem
open pit
1743
4
Rabbit Lake
Canada
Cameco
underground
1368
3
Akouta
Niger
Areva/Onarem
underground
1289
3
 McClean Lake
Canada
Areva
open pit
1249
3
Akdala
Kazakhstan
Uranium One
ISL
1034
2
Top 10 total
27,436
62%

New Mines

Canada has two major mines likely to come into production in 2011:  Cameco's Cigar Lake underground mine is being developed for 2011 start-up.  It will truck ore for treatment at McClean Lake and Rabbit Lake mills, 70 km away, eventually to produce 7000 tU/yr.  With this and the now-delayed Midwest mine operating, Canadian output could be substantially be concentrated at two mills:  McClean Lake producing about 7600 tU and Key Lake 7000 tU per year, with about 3400 t/yr coming from Rabbit Lake.   (See also Information Paper on Canada).

In Australia there are plans progressively to increase the uranium output of Olympic Dam, to about 16,000 tonnes U per year, and two smaller ISL mines are due to start production by about 2010.    (See also Information Paper on Australia).

In Kazakhstan a number of ISL mines are due to start over the next few years, taking Kazakh uranium production to about 15,000 tU per year by 2010.

With the recovery of uranium prices since about 2003, there is a lot of activity in preparing to open new mines in many countries.  The WNA reference scenario projects world uranium demand as about 74,000 tU in 2015, and most of this will need to come directly from mines (in 2007 36% came from secondary sources).

Western World Uranium Production and Demand 1945-2004

Source:World Nuclear Association

 

Known Recoverable Resources* of Uranium 2007

  tonnes U percentage of world
Australia
1,243,000
23%
Kazakhstan
817,000
15%
 Russia
546,000
10%
 South Africa
435,000
8%
Canada
423,000
8%
USA
342,000
6%
 Brazil
278,000
5%
Namibia
275,000
5%
Niger
274,000
5%
Ukraine
200,000
4%
Jordan
112,000
2%
 Uzbekistan
111,000
2%
India
73,000
1%
China
68,000
1%
 Mongolia
62,000
1%
other
210,000
4%
World total
5,469,000

Reasonably Assured Resources plus Inferred Resources, to US$ 130/kg U, 1/1/07, from OECD NEA & IAEA, Uranium 2007: Resources, Production and Demand ("Red Book").

 

Sources:
World Nuclear Association