Survey of Energy Resources 2007
Uranium Country Notes
United States of America
Between 1947 and 1970 the US Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) promoted the development of a private-sector uranium exploration and production industry; in late 1957 the AEC concluded its own exploration and development activities. Private-sector efforts accelerated in the 1970s in a context of rising prices and anticipated growth in the demand for the metal to fuel civilian power plants.
This exploration activity revealed the existence of extensive ore deposits in the western half of the United States, particularly in the states of Wyoming, Nebraska, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico and in the Texas Gulf Coastal Plain. Numerous production centres were erected over the years, but many have now been closed down and either dismantled or put on standby.
Current production is mainly reliant on ISL, although some uranium is obtained from solvent extraction and other operations, such as mine water treatment and environmental restoration. At the beginning of 2005, three ISL plants (with an aggregate capacity of 1 460 tU/yr) and one conventional mill (capacity 210 tU/yr) were operational; one ISL plant and two conventional mills were on standby; one ISL plant was in development and two new facilities were seeking permits and licences. US uranium output in 2005 amounted to an estimated
1 039 tonnes, the eighth highest in the world. Preliminary information indicates that there was a substantial increase in production in 2006 over the previous year's level, reaching 1 586 tU.
The USA's RAR (at up to US$ 80/kgU) at the beginning of 2005 were estimated to be 102 000 tonnes, equivalent to 3.9% of the global total; RAR recoverable at US$ 80-130/kgU were 240 000 tonnes. Prognosticated Resources at up to US$ 80/kgU were 839 000 tonnes, with a further 434 000 tonnes at US$ 80-130/kgU. SR at up to US$ 130/kgU were 858 000 tonnes, with additional SR (with a cost range of US$ 130-260/kgU) amounting to 482 000 tonnes.