U.S. uranium mines produced 21,000 pounds of of triuranium octoxide (U3O8), or uranium concentrate in 2021. Production data was withheld in 2020 but 2021 production was down 88% from 2019 production levels. The production of uranium concentrate is the first step in the nuclear fuel production process, preceding the conversion of U3O8 into UF6 to enable uranium enrichment, then fuel pellet fabrication, and finally fuel assembly fabrication.
At the end of 2021, Shootaring Canyon Uranium Mill and White Mesa Mill in Utah and Sweetwater Uranium Project in Wyoming were on standby with a total capacity of 5,750 short tons of material per day. In Wyoming, one heap leach plant was in the planning stages (Sheep Mountain).
Regarding in-situ recovery facilities, at the end of 2021 the Lost Creek Project and the Smith Ranch-Highland Operation in Wyoming were operating with a combined capacity of 7.5 million pounds U3O8 per year. Nine in-situ recovery plants were on standby as of the end of 2021 with a combined annual production capacity of 13.8 million pounds U3O8. Ten in-situ recovery plants were planned for four states: New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming with a combined annual production capacity of 15 million pounds U3O8.
Total employment in the U.S. uranium production industry was 207 full-time person-years (one person year is equal to full-time employment for one person) in 2021, a decrease of 8% from the 2020 total.
Total expenditures for land, exploration, drilling, production, and reclamation were $72.5 million in 2021, 17% lower than in 2020.