World Uranium Mining Production

(Updated August 2019)

  • Over two-thirds of the world's production of uranium from mines is from Kazakhstan, Canada and Australia.
  • An increasing amount of uranium, now over 50%, is produced by in situ leaching.
  • After a decade of falling mine production to 1993, output of uranium has generally risen since then and now meets almost all the demand for power generation.

Kazakhstan produces the largest share of uranium from mines (41% of world supply from mines in 2018), followed by Canada (13%) and Australia (12%).

Production from mines (tonnes U)

Country 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Kazakhstan 14,020 17,803 19,451 21,317 22,451 23,127 23,607 24,586 23,321 21,705
Canada 10,173 9783 9145 8999 9331 9134 13,325 14,039 13,116 7001
Australia 7982 5900 5983 6991 6350 5001 5654 6315 5882 6517
Namibia 4626 4496 3258 4495 4323 3255 2993 3654 4224 5525
Niger 3243 4198 4351 4667 4518 4057 4116 3479 3449 2911
Russia 3564 3562 2993 2872 3135 2990 3055 3004 2917 2904
Uzbekistan (est) 2429 2400 2500 2400 2400 2400 2385 2404 2404 2404
China (est) 750 827 885 1500 1500 1500 1616 1616 1885 1885
Ukraine (est) 840 850 890 960 922 926 1200 1005 550 1180
USA 1453 1660 1537 1596 1792 1919 1256 1125 940 582
India (est) 290 400 400 385 385 385 385 385 421 423
South Africa 563 583 582 465 531 573 393 490 308 346
Iran (est) 0 0 0 0 0 0 38 0 40 71
Pakistan (est) 50 45 45 45 45 45 45 45 45 45
Czech Republic 258 254 229 228 215 193 155 138 0 0
Romania (est) 75 77 77 90 77 77 77 50 0 0
Brazil (est) 345 148 265 326 192 55 40 44 0 0
France 8 7 6 3 5 3 2 0 0 0
Germany 0 8 51 50 27 33 0 0 0 0
Malawi 104 670 846 1101 1132 369 0 0 0 0
Total world 50,772 53,671 53,493 58,493 59,331 56,041 60,304 62,379 59,462 53,498
tonnes U3O8 59,874 63,291 63,082 68,974 69,966 66,087 71,113 73,560 70,120 63,087
% of world demand* 80% 84% 87% 94% 91% 85% 98% 96% 93% 83%

* Data from the World Nuclear Association. NB: the figures in this table are liable to change as new data becomes available.

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 increased it again. In situ leach (ISL, or ISR) mining has been steadily increasing its share of the total, mainly due to Kazakhstan, and in 2018 accounted for over half of production. In 2018 production was as follows:

Method tonnes U %
In situ leach (ISL) 29,248 55%
Underground & open pit (except Olympic Dam) 20,745 39%
By-product 3505 7%

Conventional mines have a mill where the ore is crushed, ground and then leached with sulfuric acid to dissolve the uranium oxides. At the mill of a conventional mine, or the treatment plant of an ISL operation, the uranium then separated by ion exchange before being dried and packed, usually as U3O8. Some mills and ISL operations (especially in the USA) use carbonate leaching instead of sulfuric acid, depending on the orebody. Where uranium is recovered as a by-product, e.g. of copper or phosphate, the treatment process is likely to be more complex.

During the 1990s the uranium production industry was consolidated by takeovers, mergers and closures, but this has diversified again with Kazakhstan's multinational ownership structure. Over half of uranium mine production is from state-owned mining companies, some of which prioritise secure supply over market considerations. In 2018, the top 10 companies by production marketed 80% of the world's uranium production:

Company tonnes U %
Kazatomprom 11,074 22
Orano 5809 11
Cameco 4613 9
Uranium One 4385 8
CGN 3185 6
BHP 3159 6
ARMZ 2904 5
Rio Tinto 2602 5
Navoi Mining 2404 4
Energy Asia 2204 4
CNNC 1983 4
General Atomics/Quasar 1663 3
VostGok 1180 2
Sopamin 1002 2
Other 4701 9
Total 53,498 100%

Note that these figures are based on marketed share of production, not joint venture shares.

The largest-producing uranium mines in 2018

Mine Country Main owner Type Production (tonnes U) % of world
Cigar Lake Canada Cameco/Orano underground 6924 13
Olympic Dam Australia BHP Billiton by-product/
underground
3159 6
Husab Namibia Swakop Uranium (CGN) open pit 3028 6
Inkai, sites 1-3 Kazakhstan Kazaktomprom/Cameco ISL 2643 5
Rössing Namibia Rio Tinto open pit 2102 4
Budenovskoye 2 Kazakhstan Uranium One/Kazatomprom ISL 2081 4
Tortkuduk Kazakhstan Orano/Kazatomprom ISL 1900 4
SOMAIR Niger Orano open pit 1783 3
Ranger Australia Rio Tinto/ERA open pit 1695 3
Kharasan 2 Kazakhstan Kazatomprom ISL 1631 3
Top 10 total   26,946 51%

World uranium production and reactor requirements (tonnes U)

                                    

Sources: OECD-NEA/IAEA, World Nuclear Association

Table 2: Uranium resources by country in 2017

  tonnes U percentage of world
Australia
1,818,300
30%
Kazakhstan
842,200
14%
Canada
514,400
8%
Russia
485,600
8%
Namibia 442,100* 7%
South Africa
322,400
5%
China 290,400 5%
Niger
280,000*
5%
Brazil
276,800
5%
Uzbekistan
139,200*
2%
Ukraine
114,100
2%
Mongolia 113,500 2%
Botswana
73,500*
1%
Tanzania
58,200*
1%
USA 47,200 1%
Jordan
43,500
1%
Other
280,600
4%
World total
6,142,600
 

Identified resources recoverable (reasonably assured resources plus inferred resources), to US$130/kg U, 1/1/17, from OECD NEA & IAEA, Uranium 2018: Resources, Production and Demand ('Red Book'). The total recoverable identified resources to $260/kg U is 7.989 million tonnes U.
Identified resources in situ to $130/kg U are 8.122 Mt, and to $260/kg U, 10.653 Mt.
* IAEA estimate.


Notes & references

General Sources

OECD-NEA & IAEA, Uranium 2018: Resources, Production and Demand ('Red Book')
World Nuclear Association, The Nuclear Fuel Report 2015, 2017 & 2019


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