‹ Minerals


December 05, 2012

In 2012 uranium prices have faltered. Yet most prognosticators see rising prices in 2013 and more developments in northern Saskatchewan.

There are about 438 nuclear reactors in the world now (104 in the US) and this will rise to 527 in the next 6 years. In fact, there are more reactors planned or under construction today than before the Fukushima Daiichi disaster. Emerging markets are going to be the real growth story, specifically China, India and Russia. China’s currently has 15 reactors in operation, 26 under construction and 51 planned, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Excess short-term uranium supply and low discretionary demand mainly from utilities resulted in U3O8 prices slipping from $53 to $43 /lb. over the past year. For much of the summer, China was not buying uranium on the spot market, and many utilities were covered for 2013 requirements.

Canada was the world’s largest uranium producer for many years, accounting for about 22% of world output, but in 2009 was overtaken by Kazakhstan. Production comes mainly from the McArthur River mine in northern Saskatchewan province, which is the largest in the world. Production is expected to increase significantly from 2013 as the new Cigar Lake mine comes into operation. The two largest projects are Cameco’s Cigar Lake mine and Areva’s Midwest mine. The mill at McClean Lake has been modified to process ore from both mines. The Rabbit Lake mill will also be modified to take ore from Cigar Lake. Total production is expected to be 8,200 t/yr U3O8 from Cigar Lake and 2,600 t/yr from Midwest.


The uranium industry directly employs approximately 2,595 people in Saskatchewan and industry contractors employ an additional 2,567 people. The operations for the industry are centered in the Athabasca Basin.