The 10 Largest Uranium Mines

The world's biggest uranium producers in 2010

The world's 10 largest producing uranium mines accounted for 29,337 tonnes of uranium (tU), or 55% of global production in 2010.

Leading the way was McArthur River (Canada), which is owned by Cameco and Areva, two of the world's largest uranium production companies. 

Kazakhstan is well represented on the list with four mines in the top ten (although none in the top five). 

The statistics used to create this list were provided by the World Nuclear Association.

McArthur River (Canada) - Areva/Cameco

mcarthur river. the world's biggest uranium mine
Turgan/Wikimedia Commons/ CC-BY-SA-3.0

MacArthur River is the world's largest high-grade uranium mine, producing 7654 tonnes of uranium (tU), or 14% of global production, in 2010. Ore grades at the underground mine average more than 10% uranium content, making them one hundred times the global average for uranium mines. Cameco operates the mine and controls 70% ownership, while Areva owns 30%.

Ranger (Australia) - Energy Resources of Australia Ltd.

ranger uranium
ERA's Ranger uranium mine. Image Author: Geomartin
Energy Resources of Australia Ltd. (ERA) has operated the Ranger mine, situated 260 kilometers east of Darwin, Australia, since 1980. The open-pit mine produced 3216tU, approximately 6% of the world total, in 2010. ERA is operated and 68% owned by Rio Tinto.

Rossing (Namibia) - Rio Tinto

rossing uranium
The Rossing uranium mine in Namibia. Image © Rio Tinto
Started in 1976, the Rossing mine in Namibia's Namib Desert is the world's longest running open-pit uranium mine. Rio Tinto owns 69% of the mine, which extracted 3077tU in 2010.

Kraznokamensk (Russia) - ARMZ

Kraznokamensk uranium
Uranium mining operations near Kraznokamensk Kazakhstan. Image © JSC Priargunsky Mining and Chemical Works
The town of Kraznokamensk was founded around the Priargunsky uranium mine over 40 years ago. Cumulative uranium production from the underground mine since that time has exceeded 117 000 tonnes. In 2010, production was 2920tU. Further development of new areas and capital modernization programs are currently being put in place at the mine to keep production volumes up despite declining ore quality.

Arlit (Niger) - Somair:

arlit urnaium
The Somair open-pin uranium mine in Niger. Image © Areva
The Somair open-pit mine is situated 7 kilometers northwest of Arlit in Niger. Uranium is extracted from the sedimentary deposit at depths of 50 to 70 meters and heap leached on site, at the open-pit mine. Production at the mine, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of AREVA, is expected to reach 3,000tU by 2012 and, at current production rates, has an expected life of 13 years.

Tortkuduk (Kazakhstan) - Kazatomprom/Areva

Image © Kazatomprom JSC
Operated by KATCO JV, Site No. 2 at the Tortkuduk uranium mine produced 2439tU using in-situ leaching techniques in 2010. Katco JV was set-up in 1996 between France's Areva, who controls 51%, and the national atomic company of Kazakhstan, Kazatomprom, who controls the remaining 49%.

Olympic Dam (Australia) - BHP Billiton

BHP Billiton's Olympic Dam. Image © BHP Billiton

Olympic dame is Australia's largest mine and is characterized by a multi-mineral ore body that produces uranium as a well as copper, gold and silver. The underground operations resulted in 2330tU, or about 4% of the world's total uranium production, in 2010.

BHP Billiton is currently undertaking feasibility studies into expanding Olympic Dame.

Budenovskoye 2 (Kazakhstan) - Kazatomprom

Image © Kazatomprom JSC
Karatau LLP was established in 2005 as a subsidiary of Kazatomprom to develop Site No. 2 of the Bedenovskoye uranium deposit in south Kazakhstan. Using in-situ leaching, the mine produced 1708tU in 2010 and has a design capacity to reach 3,000tU by 2015.

South Inkai (Kazakhstan) - Kazatomprom/Uranium One

Uranium One's South Inkai uranium mine in Kazakhstan. Image © Uranium One Inc.
Operating in the Suzak region of Kazakhstan, the South Inkai uranium deposit is an in-situ leaching operation that is operated by the Betpak-Dala joint venture of which Uranium One controls a 70% interest and Kazatomprom controls the balance.

1701tU were produced at the mine in 2010, while the design capacity of South Inkai is 2000tU per year. This rate of production is expected to be realized in 2011.

Inkai (Kazakhstan) - Kazatomprom/Cameco

Cameco's Inkai uranium mine. Image © Cameco Corp.

Joint Venture Inkai (JVI) operates the Inkai uranium deposit in Kazakhstan. Cameco holds 60% interest in JVI and Kazatomprom holds the remaining 40%. Mine production began in 2009 using in-situ recovery technology and, in 2010, 1642tU were produced at blocks 1 and 2. Cameco is currently seeking approval to produce upwards of 2.3tU per year.

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