World Uranium Mining Production

(Updated May 2020)

  • 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.

Kazakhstan produces the largest share of uranium from mines (43% of world supply from mines in 2019), followed by Canada (13%) and Australia (12%).

Production from mines (tonnes U)

Country 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Kazakhstan 17,803 19,451 21,317 22,451 23,127 23,607 24,586 23,321 21,705 22,808
Canada 9783 9145 8999 9331 9134 13,325 14,039 13,116 7001 6938
Australia 5900 5983 6991 6350 5001 5654 6315 5882 6517 6613
Namibia 4496 3258 4495 4323 3255 2993 3654 4224 5525 5476
Niger 4198 4351 4667 4518 4057 4116 3479 3449 2911 2983
Russia 3562 2993 2872 3135 2990 3055 3004 2917 2904 2911
Uzbekistan (est.) 2400 2500 2400 2400 2400 2385 2404 2404 2404 2404
China (est.) 827 885 1500 1500 1500 1616 1616 1885 1885 1885
Ukraine 850 890 960 922 926 1200 1005 550 1180 801
USA 1660 1537 1596 1792 1919 1256 1125 940 582 67
India (est.) 400 400 385 385 385 385 385 421 423 308
South Africa (est.) 583 582 465 531 573 393 490 308 346 346
Iran (est.) 0 0 0 0 0 38 0 40 71 71
Pakistan (est.) 45 45 45 45 45 45 45 45 45 45
Czech Republic 254 229 228 215 193 155 138 0 0 0
Romania 77 77 90 77 77 77 50 0 0 0
Brazil 148 265 326 192 55 40 44 0 0 0
France 7 6 3 5 3 2 0 0 0 0
Germany 8 51 50 27 33 0 0 0 0 0
Malawi 670 846 1101 1132 369 0 0 0 0 0
Total world 53,671 53,493 58,493 59,331 56,041 60,304 62,379 59,462 53,498 53,656
tonnes U3O8 63,291 63,082 68,974 69,966 66,087 71,113 73,560 70,120 63,087 63,273
% of world demand * 84% 87% 94% 91% 85% 98% 96% 93% 80% 79%

* 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) 30,339 57%
Underground & open pit (except Olympic Dam) 19,607 36%
By-product 3710 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 12,229* 23
Orano 5809 11
Cameco 4754 9
Uranium One 4624 9
CNNC 3961 7
CGN 3871 7
BHP 3364 6
ARMZ 2904 5
Navoi Mining 2404 5
Energy Asia 2122 4
General Atomics/Quasar 1764 3
Sopamin 1032 2
Rio Tinto 1016 2
VostGok 801 1
Other 3001 6
Total 53,656 100

* Kazatomprom 2019 financial results show 13,291 tU as they include 50% of Energy Asia's production.

The largest-producing uranium mines in 2019

Mine Country Main owner Type Production (tonnes U) % of world
Cigar Lake Canada Cameco/Orano underground 6924 13
Husab Namibia Swakop Uranium (CGN) open pit 3400 6
Olympic Dam Australia BHP Billiton by-product/
underground
3364 6
Moinjum & Tortkuduk Kazakhstan Orano/Kazatomprom ISL 3252 6
Inkai, sites 1-3 Kazakhstan Kazaktomprom/Cameco ISL 3209 6
Budenovskoye 2 Kazakhstan Uranium One/Kazatomprom ISL 2600 5
Rössing Namibia Rio Tinto open pit 2076 4
SOMAIR Niger Orano open pit 1912 4
Central Mynkuduk Kazakhstan Kazatomprom ISL 1964 3
South Inkai (Block 4) Kazakhstan Uranium One/Kazatomprom ISL 1601 3
Top 10 total   30,032 56%

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 $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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