Uranium is four times more common than silver and gold in energy-creating processes, and it may prove to be far more useful than any ‘valuable’ material in addressing the long-term demands of our planet’s human population.
‘Uranium reserves,’ for the purposes of this article, are reserves of recoverable uranium, independent of isotope, based on a set market price.
In 2012, the global nuclear power capacity was estimated to be at 372.5 gigawatts, with 437 active nuclear power reactors spread across 31 countries.
Despite the fact that some countries, such as Japan and Germany, have worked to completely shut down all of their reactors due to public outcry over safety and environmental concerns, others, such as India, China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia, have opened new nuclear reactors to help meet their energy demands.
Because nuclear power plants are primarily fuelled by uranium, nations with large uranium deposits will be able to profit from the nuclear energy sector’s growing proportion of the global energy market.
The question then becomes: which nations have the largest uranium reserves? Here’s the solution:
The Uranium Reserves of the World’s Largest Countries
- 304,000 metric tons Kazakhstan
- 275,000 metric tons – Canada
- 168 metric tons – South Africa
Kazakhstan held the world’s largest uranium resource in 2018, at 304,000 metric tons. It is also the world’s greatest producer of uranium. Kazakhstan has almost 12% of the world’s uranium reserves.
It’s worth noting that Kazakhstan has long been one of the world’s top uranium producers. It generated about 28% of the world total in 2009, for example. According to data, it produced 22,451 tonnes of uranium in 2013, accounting for around 38% of global output.
However, Kazatomprom, the state-owned firm that oversees all of the country’s key uranium operations, including mining, exploration, imports, and exports, exported a large portion of its uranium.
The corporation has strategic connections with key energy-consuming nations such as China, Japan, and Russia, and has a considerable stake in Westinghouse Electric Company, a worldwide nuclear powerhouse.
In 1943, uranium prospecting started in the nation. Kazakhstan now has 50 deposits spread over six regions.
2. The country of Canada
For many years, Canada was the world’s greatest uranium producer, accounting for 22% of global production at the time, but Kazakhstan surpassed Canada in 2009.
For the record, Canada’s McArthur River Mine is believed to be the world’s most prolific uranium producer.
Canada produced roughly 9,331 tonnes of uranium in 2013, according to figures. Its output grew to 275, 000 metric tons in 2018.
The Athabasca Basin in Northern Saskatchewan has the majority of Canada’s reserves, with deposits believed to have been graded 10 to 100 times higher than the average grade of deposits mined across the globe.
3. South Africa
With the country’s energy output on the increase, South Africa now has two nuclear reactors that provide 5% of the country’s power.
It boasts the third-largest uranium deposits in the world. South Africa’s Koeberg Nuclear Plant is owned by Eskom, a state-owned electricity provider.
The Dominion Reefs project in Haartebeesfontein, Ezulwini near Dominion Reefs, and the middle Karoo Basin, which is controlled by UraMin, Inc., are the country’s major mining locations.
Urim is a subsidiary of Areva, a French nuclear energy firm that operates over most of Africa.
Largest Uranium Reserves In The World
|Rank||Country||Uranium Reserve (in 1000 metric tons)|
Could Uranium Be the Fuel of the Future?
The availability of uranium is not like that of many other natural resources, as the BGR numbers show. It seems to be more sporadically scattered internationally than, for instance, fossil fuels, rather than being quite particular to certain parts of the planet.
Fortunately for many developing nations with huge uranium reserves, they may have struck gold in terms of nuclear energy growth potential.
Indeed, aside from the recoverable reserves listed, the world may still have a significant amount of uranium to offer.
Uranium-powered reactors may prove to be a major source of global energy as new methods of more efficient uranium recovery are developed and new locations for uranium ore exploration are explored.
The Belgian nuclear power plant Doel.
As the long-term supply of fossil fuels and the long-term impact of their usage on climate change become more pressing concerns to address, uranium might prove to be a viable alternative to energy derived from the combustion of fossil fuels and other hydrocarbons.
Nuclear energy, on the other hand, is not without concerns, since the storage of old supplies and the looming threat of reactor meltdown are always on people’s minds.
Finding safe and viable ways to harvest, process, dispose of, and convert uranium into electrical power for a population that is pushing the planet’s resources to their limits might be one of humanity’s next great frontiers.