World Uranium Mining Production

(Updated July 2022)

  • About two-thirds of the world's production of uranium from mines is from Kazakhstan, Canada and Australia.
  • An increasing amount of uranium, now over 60%, is produced by in situ leaching.

In 2021 Kazakhstan produced the largest share of uranium from mines (45% of world supply), followed by Namibia (12%) and Canada (10%).

Production from mines (tonnes U)

Country 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Kazakhstan 21,317 22,451 23,127 23,607 24,689 23,321 21,705 22,808 19,477 21,819
Australia 6991 6350 5001 5654 6315 5882 6517 6613 6203 4192
Namibia 4495 4323 3255 2993 3654 4224 5525 5476 5413 5753
Canada 8999 9331 9134 13,325 14,039 13,116 7001 6938 3885 4693
Uzbekistan (est.) 2400 2400 2400 2385 3325 3400 3450 3500 3500 3500
Niger 4667 4518 4057 4116 3479 3449 2911 2983 2991 2248
Russia 2872 3135 2990 3055 3004 2917 2904 2911 2846 2635
China (est.) 1500 1500 1500 1616 1616 1692 1885 1885 1885 1885
Ukraine 960 922 926 1200 808 707 790 800 744 455
India (est.) 385 385 385 385 385 421 423 308 400 615
South Africa (est.) 465 531 573 393 490 308 346 346 250 385
Iran (est.) 0 0 0 38 0 40 71 71 71 71
Pakistan (est.) 45 45 45 45 45 45 45 45 45 45
Brazil 326 192 55 40 44 0 0 0 15 29
USA 1596 1792 1919 1256 1125 940 582 58 6 8
Czech Republic 228 215 193 155 138 0 0 0 0 0
Romania 90 77 77 77 50 0 0 0 0 0
France 3 5 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 0
Germany 50 27 33 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Malawi 1101 1132 369 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total world 58,493 59,331 56,041 60,304 63,207 60,514 54,154 54,742 47,731 48,332
tonnes U3O8 68,974 69,966 66,087 71,113 74,357 71,361 63,861 64,554 56,287 56,995
% of world demand 94% 91% 85% 98% 96% 93% 80% 81% 74% 77%

* Data from the World Nuclear Association. NB: the figures in this table are liable to change as new data becomes available. Totals may not sum exactly due to rounding.

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 2021 accounted for over 60% of production:

Method tonnes U %
In situ leach (ISL) 32,088 66%
Underground & open pit (except Olympic Dam) 13,937 29%
By-product 2307 5%

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 2021, the top 10 companies by production contributed about 90% of the world's uranium production:

Company tonnes U % of world
total
Kazatomprom 11,858 25
Orano 4541 9
Uranium One 4514 9
Cameco 4397 9
CGN 4112 9
Navoi Mining 3500 7
CNNC 3562 7
ARMZ 2635 5
General Atomics/Quasar 2241 5
BHP 1922 4
Energy Asia 900 2
Sopamin 809 2
VostGok 455 1
Other 2886 6
Total 48,332 100

The largest-producing uranium mines in 2021

Mine Country Main owner Type Production (tonnes U) % of world
Cigar Lake Canada Cameco/Orano underground 4693 10
Inkai 1-3 Kazakhstan Kazaktomprom/Cameco ISL 3449 7
Husab Namibia Swakop Uranium (CGN) open pit 3309 7
Karatau (Budenovskoye 2) Kazakhstan Uranium One/Kazatomprom ISL 2561 5
Rössing Namibia CNNC open pit 2444 5
Four Mile Australia Quasar ISL 2241 5
SOMAIR Niger Orano open pit 1996 4
Olympic Dam Australia BHP Billiton by-product/underground 1922 4
Central Mynkuduk Kazakhstan Ortalyk ISL 1579 3
Kharasan 1 Kazakhstan Kazatomprom/Uranium One ISL 1579 3
Top 10 total   25,773 53%

Note 1: SMCC, a joint venture between Kazatomprom and Uranium One, reported combined production of 2321 tU in 2021 at its two mines, South Inkai 4 and Akdala.
Note 2: KATCO, a joint venture between Kazatomprom and Orano, reported combined production of 2840 tU in 2021 across its two mines, Moinkum and Tortkuduk.

World uranium production and reactor requirements (tonnes U)

uranium production and demand by country between 1945 and 2020

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 & 2021


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