Nuclear & Uranium

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Domestic Uranium Production Report - Annual

With Data for 2014  |  Release Date: April 30, 2015  |  Next Release Date: May 2016
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Previous domestic uranium production reports

Drilling

Figure 1. U.S. Uranium drilling by number of holes, 2004-14Total uranium drilling was 1,752 holes covering 1.3 million feet, 67% fewer holes than in 2013 and the lowest since 2004. Expenditures for uranium drilling in the United States were $28 million in 2014, a decrease of 43% compared with 2013.

Mining, production, shipments, and sales

U.S. uranium mines produced 4.9 million pounds U3O8 in 2014, 7% more than in 2013. Two underground mines produced uranium ore during 2014, one less than during 2013. Uranium ore from underground mines is stockpiled and shipped to a mill, to be milled into uranium concentrate (a yellow or brown powder). Additionally, eight in-situ-leach (ISL) mining operations produced solutions containing uranium in 2014, one more than in 2013, that was processed into uranium concentrate at ISL plants. Overall, there were 10 mines that operated during part or all of 2014.

Total production of U.S. uranium concentrate1 in 2014 was 4.9 million pounds U3O8, 5% more than in 2013, from eight facilities: one mill in Utah (White Mesa Mill) and seven ISL plants (Alta Mesa Project, Crow Butte Operation, Hobson ISR Plant/La Palangana, Lost Creek Project, Nichols Ranch ISR Project, Smith Ranch-Highland Operation, and Willow Creek Project). The Nichols Ranch ISR Project started producing in 2014. The seven ISL plants are located in Nebraska, Texas and Wyoming.

Total shipments of uranium concentrate from U.S. mill and ISL plants were 4.6 million pounds U3O8 in 2014, 1% less than in 2013. U.S. producers sold 4.7 million pounds U3O8 of uranium concentrate in 2014 at a weighted-average price of $39.17 per pound U3O8.

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

At the end of 2014, the White Mesa Mill in Utah was operating-processing alternate feed 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 is one mill planned for Colorado (Pinon Ridge Mill) and one heap leach plant planned for Wyoming (Sheep Mountain).

At the end of 2014, seven U.S. uranium ISL plants were operating with a combined capacity of 15.3 million pounds U3O8 per year (Crow Butte Operation in Nebraska; Alta Mesa Project and Hobson ISR Plant/La Palangana in Texas; Lost Creek Project, Nichols Ranch ISR Project, Smith Ranch-Highland Operation, and Willow Creek Project in Wyoming). The Ross Central Processing Plant was under construction in Wyoming. There are seven 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 787 person-years in 2014, a decrease of 32% from the 2013 total and the lowest since 2006. Exploration employment was 86 person-years, a 42% decrease compared with 2013. Mining employment was 246 person-years, and decreased 37% from 2013. Milling and processing employment was 293 person-years, a 30% decrease from 2013. Reclamation employment decreased 19% to 161 person-years from 2013 to 2014. Uranium production industry employment for 2014 was in 9 States: Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

Expenditures

Total expenditures for land, exploration, drilling, production, and reclamation were $240 million in 2014, 22% less than in 2013. Expenditures for U.S. uranium production, including facility expenses, were the largest category of expenditures at $138 million in 2014 and were down by 18% from the 2013 level. Uranium exploration expenditures were $11 million and decreased 50% from 2013 to 2014. Expenditures for land were $12 million in 2014, a 21% decrease compared with 2013. Reclamation expenditures were $52 million, a 5% decrease compared with 2013.

Reserve estimates

For end of 2014, estimated uranium reserves were 45 million pounds U3O8 at a maximum forward cost of up to $30 per pound. At up to $50 per pound, estimated reserves were 163 million pounds U3O8. At up to $100 per pound, estimated reserves were 359 million pounds U3O8. At the end of 2014, estimated uranium reserves for mines in production were 19 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 38 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 2014 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.

Footnote

1A yellow or brown powder obtained by the milling of uranium ore, processing of in situ leach mining solutions, or as a byproduct of phosphoric acid production.