Nuclear & Uranium

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Domestic Uranium Production Report - Annual

With Data for 2013  |  Release Date: May 1, 2014  |  Next Release Date: May 2015
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Previous domestic uranium production reports

Drilling

Figure 1. U.S. Uranium drilling by number of holes, 2004-13U.S. uraniumexploration drilling was 1,231 holes covering 0.9 million feet in 2013, a 76% decrease in the number of holes compared with 2012. Development drilling was 4,013 holes and 2.9 million feet. Combined, total uranium drilling was 5,244 holes covering 3.8 million feet, 53% fewer holes than in 2012. Expenditures for uranium drilling in the United States were $50 million in 2013, a decrease of 25% compared with 2012.

Mining, production, shipments, and sales

U.S. uranium mines produced 4.6 million pounds U3O8 in 2013, 6% more than in 2012. Three underground mines produced uranium ore during 2013, three less than during 2012. Uranium ore from underground mines is stockpiled and shipped to a mill, to be milled into uranium concentrate (a yellow or brown powder). Additionally, seven in-situ-leach (ISL) mining operations produced solutions containing uranium in 2013, two more than in 2012, that was processed into uranium concentrate at ISL plants. Overall, there were 10 mines that operated during part or all of 2013.

Total production of U.S. uranium concentrate in 2013 was 4.7 million pounds U3O8, 12% more than in 2012, from seven facilities: one mill in Utah (White Mesa Mill) and six ISL plants (Alta Mesa Project, Crow Butte Operation, Hobson ISR Plant/La Palangana, Lost Creek Project, Smith Ranch-Highland Operation, and Willow Creek Project). The Lost Creek Project started producing in 2013. Nebraska, Texas and Wyoming produced uranium concentrate at the six ISL plants in 2013.

Total shipments of uranium concentrate from U.S. mill and ISL plants were 4.7 million pounds U3O8 in 2013, 19% more than in 2012. U.S. producers sold 4.4 million pounds U3O8 of uranium concentrate in 2013 at a weighted-average price of $44.65 per pound U3O8.

Facility status (mills, heap leach plants, and in-situ-leach plants)

At the end of 2013, the White Mesa Mill in Utah was operating with a capacity of 2,000 short tons of ore per day. Shootaring Canyon Uranium Mill in Utah and Sweetwater Uranium Project in Wyoming were on standby with a total capacity of 3,750 short tons of ore per day. There are two mills planned for Colorado (Piñon Ridge Mill) and New Mexico (Pena Ranch) and two heap leach plants planned for Wyoming (Gas Hills and Sheep Mountain).

At the end of 2013, six U.S. uranium ISL plants were operating with a combined capacity of 13.3 million pounds U3O8 per year (Crow Butte Operation in Nebraska; Alta Mesa Project and Hobson ISR Plant/La Palangana in Texas; Lost Creek Project, Smith Ranch-Highland Operation, and Willow Creek Project in Wyoming). The Nichols Ranch ISR Project was under construction in Wyoming. There are eight ISL plants planned in New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming.

Employment

Figure 3. Employment iin the U.S. Uranium Production Industry by Category, 2004-13Total employment in the U.S. uranium production industry was 1,156 person-years in 2013, a decrease of 3% from the 2012 total. Exploration employment was 149 person-years, a 7% decrease compared with 2012. Mining employment was 392 person-years, and decreased 15% from 2012. Milling and processing employment was 416 person-years, a 6% increase from 2012. Reclamation employment increased 11% to 199 person-years from 2012 to 2013. Uranium production industry employment for 2013 was in 12 States: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

Expenditures

Total expenditures for land, exploration, drilling, production, and reclamation were $309 million in 2013, 13% less than in 2012. Expenditures for U.S. uranium production, including facility expenses, were the largest category of expenditures at $168 million in 2013 and were down by 10% from the 2012 level. Uranium exploration expenditures were $22 million and decreased 35% from 2012 to 2013. Expenditures for land were $15 million in 2013, a 13% decrease compared with 2012. Reclamation expenditures were $54 million, a 10% increase compared with 2012.

Reserve estimates

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) in 2010 began collecting annual reserve estimates on the survey Form EIA-851A, "Domestic Uranium Production Report." To date, these annual reserve estimates span data years 2009 through 2013. This report presents data beginning from 2012 forward. There are no plans to publish data prior to 2012 due to reporting inconsistencies and data accuracy concerns.

These uranium reserves are estimated quantities of uranium in known mineral deposits of such size, grade, and configuration that the uranium could be recovered at or below a specified production cost (forward cost) with currently proven mining and processing technology and under current law and regulations. This information is collected from the entities that otherwise report on the Form EIA-851A; i.e. companies that conduct uranium drilling, exploration, mining, and reclamation.

For end of 2013, Table 10 includes uranium reserve estimates for 74 mines and properties by status, mining method, and State. Estimated uranium reserves were 47 million pounds U3O8 at a maximum forward cost of up to $30 per pound. At up to $100 per pound, estimated reserves were 338 million pounds U3O8. At the end of 2013, estimated uranium reserves for mines in production were 20 million pounds U3O8 at a maximum forward cost of up to $50 per pound. Estimated reserves for properties in development drilling and under development for production were 32 million pounds U3O8 at a maximum forward cost of up to $50 per pound.

The uranium reserve estimates presented here cannot be compared with the much larger historical data set of uranium reserves published in the July 2010 report U.S. Uranium Reserves Estimates. Those reserve estimates were made by EIA based on data collected by EIA and data developed by the National Uranium Resource Evaluation (NURE) program, operated out of Grand Junction, Colorado, by DOE and predecessor organizations. The EIA data covered approximately 200 uranium properties with reserve estimates, collected from 1984 through 2002. The NURE data covered approximately 800 uranium properties with reserve estimates, developed from 1974 through 1983. Although the 2013 data collected by the Form EIA-851A survey covers a much smaller set of properties than the earlier EIA data and NURE data, EIA believes that within its scope the EIA-851A data provides more reliable estimates of the uranium recoverable at the specified forward cost than estimates derived from 1974 through 2002. In particular, this is because the NURE data has not been comprehensively updated in many years and is no longer a current data source.