World Uranium Mining Production

(Updated September 2021)

  • 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.

In 2020 Kazakhstan produced the largest share of uranium from mines (41% of world supply), followed by Australia (13%) and Canada (8%).

Production from mines (tonnes U)

Country 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Kazakhstan 19,451 21,317 22,451 23,127 23,607 24,689 23,321 21,705 22,808 19,477
Canada 9145 8999 9331 9134 13,325 14,039 13,116 7001 6938 3885
Australia 5983 6991 6350 5001 5654 6315 5882 6517 6613 6203
Namibia 3258 4495 4323 3255 2993 3654 4224 5525 5476 5413
Uzbekistan (est.) 2500 2400 2400 2400 2385 3325 3400 3450 3500 3500
Niger 4351 4667 4518 4057 4116 3479 3449 2911 2983 2991
Russia 2993 2872 3135 2990 3055 3004 2917 2904 2911 2846
China (est.) 885 1500 1500 1500 1616 1616 1692 1885 1885 1885
Ukraine 890 960 922 926 1200 808 707 790 800 400
USA 1537 1596 1792 1919 1256 1125 940 582 58 6
India (est.) 400 385 385 385 385 385 421 423 308 400
South Africa (est.) 582 465 531 573 393 490 308 346 346 250
Iran (est.) 0 0 0 0 38 0 40 71 71 71
Pakistan (est.) 45 45 45 45 45 45 45 45 45 45
Brazil 265 326 192 55 40 44 0 0 0 15
Czech Republic 229 228 215 193 155 138 0 0 0 0
Romania 77 90 77 77 77 50 0 0 0 0
France 6 3 5 3 2 0 0 0 0 0
Germany 51 50 27 33 0 0 0 0 0 0
Malawi 846 1101 1132 369 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total world 53,493 58,493 59,331 56,041 60,304 63,207 60,514 54,154 54,742 47,731
tonnes U3O8 63,082 68,974 69,966 66,087 71,113 74,357 71,361 63,861 64,554 56,287
% of world demand 87% 94% 91% 85% 98% 96% 93% 80% 81% 74%

* 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, also called in situ recovery, ISR) mining has been steadily increasing its share of the total, mainly due to Kazakhstan, and in 2019 accounted for over half of production:

Method tonnes U %
In situ leach (ISL) 26,402 55%
Underground & open pit (except Olympic Dam) 18,017 38%
By-product 3312 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 2019, the top 10 companies by production contributed over 85% of the world's uranium production:

Company tonnes U % of world
total
Kazatomprom 10,736 22
Orano 4453 9
Uranium One 4276 9
CGN 3671 8
Navoi Mining 3500 7
CNNC 3333 7
BHP 3062 6
ARMZ 2846 6
General Atomics/Quasar 1806 4
Rio Tinto 1016 2
Sopamin 1032 2
Energy Asia 852 2
VostGok 744 2
Other 3295 7
Total 47,731 100

The largest-producing uranium mines in 2019

Mine Country Main owner Type Production (tonnes U) % of world
Cigar Lake Canada Cameco/Orano underground 3885 8
Husab Namibia Swakop Uranium (CGN) open pit 3302 7
Olympic Dam Australia BHP Billiton by-product/
underground
3062 6
Inkai, sites 1-3 Kazakhstan Kazaktomprom/Cameco ISL 2693 6
Karatau (Budenovskoye 2) Kazakhstan Uranium One/Kazatomprom ISL 2460 5
Rössing Namibia Rio Tinto open pit 2111 4
SOMAIR Niger Orano open pit 1879 4
Four Mile Australia Quasar ISL 1806 4
South Inkai (Block 4) Kazakhstan Uranium One/Kazatomprom ISL 1601 3
Kharasan 1 Kazakhstan Kazatomprom / Uranium One ISL 1455 3
Top 10 total   24,162 51%

World uranium production and reactor requirements (tonnes U)

Sources: OECD-NEA/IAEA, World Nuclear Association 

Uranium resources by country in 2019

  tonnes U percentage of world
Australia
1,692,700
28%
Kazakhstan
906,800
15%
Canada
564,900
9%
Russia
486,000
8%
Namibia 448,300 7%
South Africa
320,900
5%
Brazil 276,800 5%
Niger
276,400
4%
China 248,900 4%
Mongolia 143,500 2%
Uzbekistan
132,300
2%
Ukraine
108,700
2%
Botswana
87,200
1%
Tanzania
58,200
1%
Jordan 52,500 1%
USA 47,900 1%
Other
295,800
5%
World total
6,147,800
 

Identified resources recoverable (reasonably assured resources plus inferred resources), to $130/kg U, 1/1/19, from OECD NEA & IAEA, Uranium 2020: Resources, Production and Demand ('Red Book'). The total recoverable identified resources to $260/kg U is 8.070 million tonnes U.


Notes & references

General Sources

OECD-NEA & IAEA, Uranium 2020: Resources, Production and Demand ('Red Book')
World Nuclear Association, The Nuclear Fuel Report 2015, 2017 & 2019


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