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The world's top 10 largest uranium mines in 2022 - report

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(Kitco News) - As Kitco previously reported, the world’s total uranium production from mines increased by 2.3% in 2022 to 48,888 tonnes. Kazakhstan was the largest uranium producing country in 2022, followed by Canada and Namibia.

Based on estimates from the World Nuclear Association and data reported by companies, Kitco ranked the world’s top ten largest uranium operations by reported / estimated production in 2022.

1. Cigar Lake, Canada. 6,928 tU. Cigar Lake is the world’s largest and highest-grade uranium mine, with grades that are 100 times the world average. Cameco is a 50% owner and the mine operator. Cigar Lake uranium is milled at Orano’s (previously AREVA) McClean Lake mill.

As a result of challenging geological conditions, Cameco was unable to utilize traditional mining methods that require access above the ore, necessitating the development of a non-entry mining method specifically adapted for this deposit: the Jet Boring System and ore zone Bulk ground freezing. Uranium production at Cigar Lake increased to 6,928 tU in 2022 as production at the mine resumed in July 2021.

2. Husab, Namibia. 3,358 tU. The main part of the Husab project is the Rossing South orebody, about 5 kilometres south of the Rossing mine and 45 km northeast of Walvis Bay port, Namibia. Swakop Uranium started development of the mine in February 2013. Mine construction commenced in 2014. Production started at the end of 2016. Most of the product is being supplied to China and up to 20% being marketed internationally by CGN Global Uranium.

3. Inkai-1, Kazakhstan. 3,201 tU. Inkai-1 is a very significant uranium project, located in Kazakhstan. The mine’s operator is JV Inkai limited liability partnership, which is jointly owned by Cameco (40%) and Kazatomprom (60%). As of 1 January 2023, the total volume of ore reserves of deposits (including annual depletion) was 127,700 tonnes of uranium.

4. Olympic Dam, Australia. 2,813 tU. Located near the town of Roxby Downs 560km north of Adelaide in Australia, the Olympic Dam mine is one of the world’s most significant deposits of copper, gold, silver and uranium that is wholly owned and operated by BHP Billiton.

Olympic Dam is made up of underground and surface operations and operates a fully integrated processing facility from ore to metal. The underground mine is made up of more than 450 kilometres of underground roads and tunnels. The mine has been in production since 1988.

5. Katco, Kazakhstan. 2,564 tU. Owned and operated by the Katco joint venture, the Tortkuduk & Moinkum mines are located in southern Kazakhstan. The joint venture consists of Orano with 51% stake and Kazakhstan’s Kazatomprom with 49%.

6. Karatau, Kazakhstan. 2,560 tU. Karatau is an operating in-situ recovery uranium mine comprising the No. 2 section of the Budenovskoye uranium deposit, located in the Chu-Sarysu basin of the Suzak region, South Kazakhstan province. Employing approximately 620 people, Karatau is owned indirectly as to 50 % by Uranium One, a subsidiary of Russia’s Rosatom, through the Karatau joint venture, a Kazakhstan limited liability partnership. The other 50 % interest is owned by Kazatomprom.

7. Rossing, Namibia. 2,255 tU. Uranium was discovered in the Namib Desert in 1928, but it was not until intensive exploration in the late 1950s that much interest was shown in the area. After discovering numerous uranium occurrences, Rio Tinto secured the rights to the low-grade Rossing deposit in 1966. Ten years later, in 1976, Rossing Uranium, Namibia’s first commercial uranium mine, started production.

On July 16, 2019, Rio Tinto annnounced it has completed the sale of its entire interest in the Rossing uranium mine in Namibia to China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) for an initial cash payment of $6.5 million plus a contingent payment of up to $100 million.

8. SMCC, Kazakhstan. 2,225 tU. SMCC is a joint venture (Kazatomprom - 30%, Russia’s Rosatom – 70%) that operates at the Akdala deposit and at block No. 3 of the Inkai deposit in the Suzak District of Turkistan Region. The Akdala deposit was discovered in 1982, and commercial operation began in 2004. The Inkai deposit was discovered in 1976, and commercial operation of block No. 4 began in 2007.

9. Somair (Arlit), Niger. 2,020 tU. The Arlit uranium mine is a large mine located near Arlit, in the northern part of Niger in Agadez Region. Arlit represents one of the largest uranium reserves in Niger. Somaïr (Société des mines de l’Aïr), operator of Arlit mine, was established in 1968. Orano, the operator, holds 63.4% of the shares; the remaining 36.6% is held by SOPAMIN (Société du Patrimoine des Mines du Niger). Given the current characteristics of the processed ore, the production capacity is in the region of 2,000 tU per year.

10. Ortalyk, Kazakhstan. 1,650 tU. Kazakhstan’s Kazatomprom owns a 51% interest in Ortalyk JV while China National Nuclear Energy Group owns 49%. The JV operates at the central block of the Mynkuduk deposit and at the Zhalpak deposit in the Sozak District of Turkestan Region of Kazakhstan.

The world's largest uranium producing countries in 2022 - report

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect those of Kitco Metals Inc. The author has made every effort to ensure accuracy of information provided; however, neither Kitco Metals Inc. nor the author can guarantee such accuracy. This article is strictly for informational purposes only. It is not a solicitation to make any exchange in commodities, securities or other financial instruments. Kitco Metals Inc. and the author of this article do not accept culpability for losses and/ or damages arising from the use of this publication.