Canada is Close to Reclaim Its Position as the World’s Top Uranium Producer

Canada is Close to Reclaim Its Position as the World's Top Uranium Producer
Published on: Jun 16, 2024

For many years, Canada was the world’s largest uranium producer until it was surpassed by Kazakhstan in 2009. However, in recent years, Canada’s uranium mining industry, especially in Saskatchewan, has been booming. The country’s uranium production is poised to see significant growth in the coming years, potentially reclaiming the title of the world’s top uranium producer.

According to the latest data from the World Nuclear Association (WNA), Kazakhstan remained the top uranium producer in 2022, with an output of 21,227 tonnes, accounting for 43% of the global production. Kazakhstan has maintained a dominant position since 2009. Canada, on the other hand, produced 7,351 tonnes of uranium, representing 15% of global production, and ranked second globally. Furthermore, in 2023, Canada became the largest uranium supplier to the United States, accounting for 27% of total deliveries.

The core of Canada’s uranium mining boom lies in Saskatchewan, with the majority of uranium exploration centered in the Athabasca Basin. Cigar Lake and McArthur River are among the world’s top uranium mines, with Cigar Lake being the world’s largest uranium mine, accounting for 14% of global uranium production in 2022. It is also the highest-grade uranium mine, with an average grade of 14.69% (U3O8). Cameco Corp (TSX:CCO) (NYSE:CCJ) and Cameco/Orano operate several mines in this uranium-rich province, and several new mines are in development.

According to WNA’s projections, with these new mines coming online in the next few years, Canada is expected to surpass Kazakhstan as the world’s largest uranium producer.

In recent years, nuclear energy and uranium mining have undergone a dramatic shift from being shunned to being embraced. To achieve net-zero emission targets, Canada has begun to embrace nuclear energy. Meanwhile, geopolitical concerns over energy security and the rapid development of artificial intelligence (AI) are expected to drive a surge in electricity demand, prompting countries to re-evaluate the role of nuclear energy. In the broader trend of electrification in North America, nuclear energy is considered the cleanest and most reliable source of energy.

As more nuclear power plants come online, WNA predicts a significant uranium supply deficit will emerge in the 2030s. With an anticipated supply-demand imbalance, uranium prices have soared 233% over the past five years, outpacing silver (99%), gold (75%), copper (66%), and lithium.

Many top executives in the global uranium industry believe that many institutions still lack a full understanding of uranium’s role in the energy transition, suggesting there is still room for uranium prices to rise.

Currently, much of the nuclear energy expansion is taking place in the Eastern Hemisphere, mainly in China and India. However, the Biden administration in the United States has recently begun to seriously consider nuclear energy, with the historic restart of the Palisades nuclear plant in Michigan being a significant milestone. Data shows that there are currently 61 nuclear power plants under construction globally, about 90 more in the planning stages, and over 300 proposed. The United States generates 19% of its electricity from 93 nuclear reactors, and this proportion is expected to increase in the future.

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