Mining activities in detail
The activities of the Mining BU are the first link in the nuclear fuel chain. They include the exploration, production and sale of uranium around the world.
AREVA is one of the world's leading producers of uranium at competitive production costs. We operate mines in Canada, Kazakhstan and Niger.
With a presence on five continents, the Mining BU provides its customers with sustainable access to uranium. To ensure the security of this supply, it operates diversified investments in exploration of deposits and the development of mining projects, while forging strategic partnerships.
The teams of the Mining BU are committed to the continuous improvement of their safety and operational performance. They conduct their activities in respect of the environment and people, while driving the economic development of the surrounding areas and their residents.
- Discover economic deposits and develop a portfolio of reserves and resources giving AREVA 20 years of production visibility; optimize projects in the portfolio in preparation for market recovery,
- Remain a producer with low cost of production to withstand the low-price period and achieve a 10% return on capital employed,
- Apply the responsible mining company principles defined in our CSR policy and those of the International Council of Mining and Metals (ICMM).
AREVA is active throughout the global uranium mining cycle
Exploration involves discovering new uranium deposits.
Prospecting is done in stages: a geological survey of the region, interpretation of aerial or satellite images, geophysics, radiation measurements in the field, and analysis of ground and water chemistry.
In the development phase, the technical, economic and environmental feasibility of a mining project is established. This involves confirming the resources identified by the geologists and characterizing the deposit and its ore.
A pilot installation may also be set up during this phase to determine the mining and ore processing methods best suited to the deposit.
The infrastructures needed for the mine’s operation are also constructed. Meanwhile, studies are done to assess the project’s social and environmental impact.
Mining in done in open pit or underground mines, or by in-situ recovery method.
AREVA’s mining experts regularly test and use innovative techniques to improve personnel safety and the performance of existing mines.
The uranium ore is converted into a uranium concentrate commonly called “yellow cake”which is 80% uranium ( 800 kg per ton). Processing operations include ore crushing and grinding, leaching, purification, rinsing, precipitation, drying and calcination.
At the end of the mine’s operating life, the mining site is dismantled and the site is rehabilitated in compliance with applicable environmental standards, while dialogue with the local community continues.
AREVA performs radiological and environmental monitoring of these sites for a period of at least 10 years.
An international market ..
The uranium market is a commodity market involving a limited number of players. 60,900 metric tons of uranium* was produced in 2016. Of that quantity, around 70% came from the five main producers, including AREVA.
Demand for uranium has decreased due to the events at Fukushima, with a particular decline in consumption in Germany and Japan, and due to competition from shale gas in the USA.
In the longer term, the market is nevertheless expected to grow, with 25% higher demand in 2025 compared to 2015, according to the WNA. This will be driven mainly by the restart of Japanese reactors and the increasing requirements of the China reactor fleet. The expected rise in market prices due to increasing demand will enable new projects to be launched.Source: Ux Consulting (UxC)