Together, those three nations accounted for over two-thirds of uranium mining, with Kazakhstan taking a 41 percent share of uranium market output and Canada and Australia taking 13 and 12 percent shares, respectively. A wide variety of uranium-mining companies contributed to production.
But where in the world are the top uranium mines? While many of them are located in Kazakhstan, Canada and Australia, that’s not the case for all of the largest uranium mines.
To give investors a better idea of where the top uranium mines are located and where the nuclear fuel comes from, we’ve put together a list of the 10 biggest uranium mines in the world, based on the latest statistics and information from the World Nuclear Association. Read on to learn more about uranium miners, plus uranium reserves and uranium exploration.
1. Cigar Lake
2018 production: 6,924 tonnes
Northern Saskatchewan-based Cigar Lake is the world’s top uranium mine. It is known for being the highest-grade uranium mine, with an average grade of 14.69 percent U3O8.
Uranium miner Cameco (TSX:CCO,NYSE:CCJ) owns 50 percent of Cigar Lake and is the mine’s operator. Ore from the underground mining property is processed at Orano’s McClean Lake mill, located 70 kilometers from the mine. In March, the companies jointly decided to suspend work at Cigar Lake and McClean Lake due to COVID-19; activities remained suspended as of mid-May.
Cigar Lake was commissioned in 2014 and began commercial uranium production in May 2015. It accounted for 13 percent of global uranium output in 2018. Orano (37.1 percent), Idemitsu Uranium Exploration Canada (7.875 percent) and TEPCO Resources (5 percent) also hold stakes in the mine.
2. Olympic Dam
2018 production: 3,159 tonnes
BHP (ASX:BHP,NYSE:BHP,LSE:BLT) owns the Olympic Dam mine, which produces copper, along with uranium, gold and silver. The mine, which has underground and surface operations, plus a fully integrated processing facility, has been in action since 1988, and in 2018 its output accounted for 6 percent of the world’s uranium production.
Australia has the largest uranium reserves in the world, and holds about 30 percent of potential global supply. As mentioned, in 2018 it was the world’s third largest producer, behind Kazakhstan and Canada.
2018 production: 3,028 tonnes
The Husab open-pit uranium mine in Namibia is owned by Swakop Uranium, a partnership between China and Namibia. Epangelo Mining Company, a Namibian state-owned entity, owns 10 percent of Swakop, while Taurus Minerals holds the other 90 percent; Taurus itself is owned by China General Nuclear Power Group and the China Africa Development Fund.