Nuclear & Uranium

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Domestic Uranium Production Report - Annual

With Data for 2015  |  Release Date: May 5, 2016  |  Next Release Date: May 2017
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Previous domestic uranium production reports


Total uranium drilling was 1,518 holes covering 0.9 million feet, 13% fewer holes than in 2015. Expenditures for uranium drilling in the United States were $29 million in 2015, an increase of 2% compared with 2014.

Figure 1. U.S. Uranium drilling by number of holes, 2004-14

Mining, production, shipments, and sales

U.S. uranium mines produced 3.7 million pounds U3O8 in 2015, 24% less than in 2014. One underground mine produced uranium ore during 2015, one less than during 2014. 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 2015, one less than in 2014, that was processed into uranium concentrate at ISL plants. Overall, there were eight mines that operated during part or all of 2015.

Total production of U.S. uranium concentrate1 in 2015 was 3.3 million pounds U3O8, 32% less than in 2014, from seven facilities: one mill in Utah (White Mesa Mill) and six ISL plants (Crow Butte Operation, Hobson ISR Plant/La Palangana, Lost Creek Project, Nichols Ranch ISR Project, Smith Ranch-Highland Operation, and Willow Creek Project). The six ISL plants are located in Nebraska, Texas and Wyoming.

Total shipments of uranium concentrate from U.S. mill and ISL plants were 4.0 million pounds U3O8 in 2015, 12% less than in 2014. U.S. producers sold 3.6 million pounds U3O8 of uranium concentrate in 2015 at a weighted-average price of $42.86 per pound U3O8.

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

At the end of 2015, 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 2015, six U.S. uranium ISL plants were operating with a combined capacity of 13.8 million pounds U3O8 per year (Crow Butte Operation in Nebraska; 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 becoming operational in Wyoming. There were seven ISL plants planned in New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming.


Figure 3. Employment iin the U.S. Uranium Production Industry by Category, 2004-13

Total employment in the U.S. uranium production industry was 625 person-years in 2015, a decrease of 21% from the 2014 total and the lowest since 2004. Exploration employment was 58 person-years, a 33% decrease compared with 2014. Mining employment was 251 person-years, and increased 2% from 2014. Milling and processing employment was 200 person-years, a 32% decrease from 2014. Reclamation employment decreased 28% to 116 person-years from 2014 to 2015. Uranium production industry employment for 2015 was in 9 States: Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.


Total expenditures for land, exploration, drilling, production, and reclamation were $224 million in 2015, 7% less than in 2014. Expenditures for U.S. uranium production, including facility expenses, were the largest category of expenditures at $119 million in 2015 and were down by 14% from the 2014 level. Uranium exploration expenditures were $5 million and decreased 56% from 2014 to 2015. Expenditures for land were $12 million in 2015, a 4% increase compared with 2014. Reclamation expenditures were $59 million, a 15% increase compared with 2014.

Reserve estimates

For end of 2015, estimated uranium reserves were 66 million pounds U3O8 at a maximum forward cost of up to $30 per pound. At up to $50 per pound, estimated reserves were 166 million pounds U3O8. At up to $100 per pound, estimated reserves were 362 million pounds U3O8. At the end of 2015, estimated uranium reserves for mines in production were 16 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 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.


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.