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 July 04, 2016
10 Top Uranium-producing Countries
    Publisher: U3O8.biz
    Author: Jocelyn Aspa


Uranium production has steadily risen over the years, increasing by over 4,000 tonnes from 2014 to 2015. In 2015, the world's total uranium production was 60,514 tonnes.

This number represents a significant spike from the 56,041 tonnes produced in 2014, as well as from the 59,331 tonnes produced in 2013.

Here's a look at the 10 top uranium-producing countries of 2015, as per statistics from the World Nuclear Association.

1. Kazakhstan

Mine production: 23,800 tonnes

Once again, Kazakhstan is the world's leading producer of uranium. The country has steadily rose in production since 2009 through to 2015, with 39 percent of world production last year. In 2015, Kazakhstan produced 23,800 tonnes, which is a significant leap from 2014's 23,127 tonnes. The country's government is planning to build a Russian nuclear power reactor, possibly at Kurchatov, by 2025.

Kazakhstan holds 12 percent of the world's uranium resources with an expanding mine sector and is planning to increase that by 2018.

2. Canada

Mine production: 13,325 tonnes

For a number of years, Canada was the largest producer of uranium, with 22 percent of global output. However, it has fallen down to second place in recent years. In 2015, Canada produced 13,325 tonnes, a significant increase from 2014's 2014 production of 9,134. This is mostly due Cameco's (TSX:CCO) Cigar Lake mine that coming into full operation last year. Other production came from the McArthur River mine. Both projects are in northern Saskatchewan.

3. Australia

Mine production: 5,672 tonnes

Uranium production in Australia saw a significant leap as well in 2015. Last year, the country produced 5,672 tonnes of uranium, a drastic increase from 2014's production of 5,001. However there is still a ways to go before Australia reaches its 2013 production of 6,350 tonnes. In 2013, the country's Honeymoon mine was shut down pending a better uranium price. The main Beverley (and North Beverley) wellfields were shut down shortly after Honeymoon.

While Australia holds the largest uranium resource of any country---and according to Mining Weekly has the potential to earn AU$2 billion annually---mining bans and restrictions in various states prevent much mining from happening there.

4. Niger

Mine production: 4,057 tonnes

Niger produced 4,057 tonnes of uranium in 2015, which is a small but gradual increase from 2014's production of 4,057 tonnes. The country has two significant uranium mines in production accounting for 7.5 percent of world mining output from Africa's highest-grade uranium ores. It should be noted there is strong government backing for expanding mining operations; that has led to plans for additional mines and prospects in the future.

Of these new mines, GoviEx Uranium's (CSE:GXU) Madaouela project will be a promising addition once it begins production; that is expected to happen in 2017 or 2018. The project's measured and indicated mineral resource was recently increased, coming in at 110.76 million pounds U3O8. Inferred resources sit at 27.66 million pounds U3O8.

5. Russia

Mine production: 3,055 tonnes

Moving up from sixth place to fifth is Russia, which produced 3,055 tonnes of uranium in 2015. Its 2014 output was 2,990, so the increase isn't that vast, although the country is expected to increase its production in the coming years. Political and economic objectives in Russia are to increase exports, including nuclear power plants.

Talks of sanctions against Russia being gradually lifted will likely alleviate some of its production woes. Meanwhile, Rosatom State Atomic Energy, the country's nuclear power company, said it aims to be one of the top global players in the sector despite sanctions from the west.

6. Namibia

Mine production: 2,993 tonnes

Namiba's uranium production continues seeing a drop, falling from 3,255 in 2014 to 2,993 in 2015. Before that, it sank to 3,255 tonnes from 4,323 tonnes in 2013. The country has two uranium mines that are capable of producing 10 percent of the world's output.

Considering the country receives half its power from South Africa, which has power constraints of its own, Namibia faces serious electricity challenges. Luckily, the country's government has expressed an interest in supplying its own electricity through new nuclear power resources. As yet, no progress has been made towards this goal.

7. Uzbekistan

Mine production: 2,385 tonnes

In 2015, Uzbekistan produced an estimated 2,385 tonnes of uranium, which is a slight drop from 2014's 2,400 tonnes produced. Although the country is seventh in terms of world uranium supply, it is expanding production with Japanese and Chinese joint ventures currently active in uranium development.

Navoi Mining & Metallurgy Combinat (NMMC) is part of state holding company Kyzylkumredmetzoloto​, and handles all the country's uranium-mining activities. In April 2015, NMMC announced the government had approved plans to implement 27 projects to modernize its production facilities by 2019.

8. China

Mine production: 1,616 tonnes 

Uranium production in China has remained relatively stable over the past few years with 1500 tonnes produced for each year between 2012 and 2014 before rising slightly to 1,616 tonnes in 2015. The country is making plans to expand its production, with many state-owned enterprises acquiring uranium resources within China, as well as internationally.

Currently, domestic uranium mining supplies less than a quarter of China's nuclear fuel needs, and the country aims to take steps to be self sufficient in most aspects of its fuel cycle. Currently, 26 nuclear reactors are being built on home soil.

9. United States

Mine production: 1,256 tonnes

Uranium mining in the US saw a significant drop in 2015, falling from 1,919 tonnes produced all the way down to 1,256 tonnes.

Uranium mining in the US is currently performed by a only few companies, although there are a number of uranium explorers. The White Mesa mine in Utah is fed by four or five underground mines and several in-situ leach operations, covering all US uranium production.

10. Ukraine

Mine production: 926 tonnes

Last on the list is the Ukraine, which saw a leap from 926 tonnes produced in 2014 to an even 1,200 tonnes of uranium produced in 2015. Ukraine also saw an increase in its uranium production from 2013 to 2014, though not very much---the country produced 926 tonnes of uranium in 2014, slightly more than the 922 tonnes produced in 2013.

In 2004, the Ukraine commissioned two large new sectors and the government plans to maintain nuclear share in electricity production to 2013, which will involve building substantially more new nuclear reactors.


You can view the Previous Market Commentary item: Wed Jul 13, 2016, Why Invest in Uranium?

You can view the Next Market Commentary item: Mon Jun 27, 2016, Brexit: Impact on Britain's Nuclear Program

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