Australia is the third largest uranium producer globally and is home to more than one-quarter of the world’s known uranium resources.
The country’s most significant uranium resources are in South Australia, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland.
South Australia and the Northern Territory permit uranium exploration and mining, while in 2017, the Western Australian government halted new approvals for uranium-mining operations. In late 2012, Queensland overturned a 23 year ban on uranium mining; however, the ban was reinstated in 2015.
As of early 2021, uranium mining in Australia was occurring at two producing mines: mining giant BHP’s (ASX:BHP,NYSE:BHP,LSE:BLT) Olympic Dam mine, the largest-known uranium deposit in the world, and the Four Mile mine, owned by Quasar Resources. Both uranium mines are located in South Australia.
Uranium mining in Australia: Major uranium exporter
Uranium mining in Australia began in the 1950s, spurred by the development of nuclear weapons. However, it was the development of nuclear power programs in the western world that gave rise to today’s Australian uranium-mining industry.
Australia’s federal government remains opposed to nuclear energy. Without a nuclear power program of its own, the South Pacific nation exports all of the uranium it produces.
In fact, uranium accounts for a quarter of Australia’s energy exports, according to the World Nuclear Association. On average, about 8,600 metric tons of Australian uranium are exported each year, amounting to approximately 10 percent of world uranium mine supply.
As a member of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), Australia only sells uranium to fellow NPT member nations. The majority of Australia’s uranium exports are received by electrical power utilities in the US, the EU, Japan, South Korea and China.
The US, which produces about 30 percent of the world’s nuclear energy, is the final destination for more than half of Australia’s uranium exports. The East Asian markets are expected to grow in significance as export markets for Australia’s uranium industry due to rising energy demand.
This is an updated version of an article first published by the Investing News Network in 2013.
Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time updates!
Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.