Global uranium mine production is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 4.3%, to reach 76,493 tonnes (t) in 2020.
The company’s latest report states that growth in production is needed to meet upcoming demand from new reactors. There are 22 new reactors scheduled for completion in 2017, with a total capacity of 22,444 Megawatts (MW). This includes eight reactors in China with a combined capacity of 8,510 MW, two reactors in South Korea with a combined capacity of 2,680 MW, two reactors in Russia with a combined capacity of 2,199 MW, and four reactors in Japan with a combined capacity of 3,598 MW.
Global uranium consumption is forecast to increase by 5%, to reach 88,500t of triuranium octoxide (U3O8) in 2017. The major expansions to nuclear capacity are projected to occur in China, India, Russia and South Korea over the next two years to 2018. The US is forecast to remain the largest producer of nuclear power in the short term, with the recent completion of the 1,200 MW Watts Bar Unit 2 reactor in Tennessee.
Cliff Smee, GlobalData’s Head of Research and Analysis for Mining, explains: “Commercial operations at the Cigar Lake project in Canada commenced in 2014, with an annual uranium metal capacity of 6,900t. The project produced 4,340t of uranium in 2015, compared with 130t in 2014. Meanwhile, production at the Four Mile project in Australia rose from 750t in 2014 to 990t in 2015.
“By contrast, production from the US declined by 32% in 2015, while in Namibia it decreased by 20%. This was due to respective declines of 33% each at the Smith Ranch-Highland and Crow Butte mines in the US, and falls of 20% and 13.6% at the Rossing and Langer Heinrich mines in Namibia.”