Exploring and extracting uranium is a significant part of the Canadian economy. Since the discovery of uranium in the 1930s, many mineral deposits have been located and mined throughout Canada, making it one of the world’s leading sources of uranium.
This blog post will provide an overview of Uranium exploration in Canada and what you need to learn about it.
Uranium Exploration in Canada
Several countries use uranium to generate electricity in commercial nuclear power plants, including Canadian-built CANDU (CANadian Deuterium Uranium) reactors, which supply about 15% of Canada’s electricity.
While Canada’s uranium production has remained relatively stable in recent years, its share of the global output fell from around 20% to 15% before recovering to approximately 22% in 2016, valued at around $2 billion. More than 85 percent is exported. Most of Canada’s uranium resources are concentrated in high-grade deposits with 100 times the global average.
Cameco and Orano Canada are Canada’s two largest uranium producers (formerly Areva Resources Canada). Cameco was formed in 1988 by merging the Saskatchewan Mining Development Corporation and the state-owned Eldorado Nuclear. The company’s first public shares were issued in 1991 and wholly privatized in 2002.
History of Uranium Exploration in Canada
The Eldorado Gold Mining Company began radium recovery operations in Port Radium, Northwest Territories, in the early 1930s. They brought the uranium ores to the public’s attention in Canada for the first time. The following year, a radium refinery was built in Port Hope, Ontario, about 5000 kilometers away.
In 1944, the federal government assumed control of the Eldorado company. It established Eldorado Nuclear Ltd. Exploration of uranium was limited to a partnership between Eldorado and the Geological Survey of Canada. In 1947, after the wartime ban on private prospecting was lifted, uranium exploration accelerated.
Early in the 1950s, deposits were discovered in the Bancroft, Ontario, region, with the first discovery occurring in the Elliot Lake region of Ontario in 1953.
By 1956, thousands of radioactive occurrences had been identified. Several deposits proved viable; by 1959, five districts contained 23 mines and 19 treatment plants. Three plants were found near Bancroft, three others in northern Saskatchewan, and two in the Northwest Territories.
How Canada Became a Uranium Production Leader
Canada is the world’s second-largest uranium producer, accounting for approximately 13% of global output. The mining and milling of uranium is an $800 million-per-year industry that directly employs over 2,000 Canadians at mine sites, with more than half of these people living in northern Saskatchewan.
In recent decades, Canada has transitioned from traditional uranium mining to more advanced technologies. In-situ leaching is one technology that allows mining in more challenging terrain while minimizing environmental damage. These efforts have allowed Canada to remain at the forefront of uranium production worldwide.
The Canadian government has also ensured nuclear safety by creating a stringent regulatory framework for uranium production. By setting industry regulations that prioritize safety and environmental responsibility, the government of Canada has been able to ensure that its citizens are well protected from potential hazards associated with uranium mining.
With plenty of natural uranium deposits, experienced and knowledgeable exploration companies, strong government regulations, and high demand for uranium, the industry continues to be an important sector of the Canadian economy. Overall, Canada’s commitment to modernizing its uranium-mining industry and ensuring the safety of its citizens will help it remain a leader in uranium production in the decades to come.
enCore Energy Corp. is the top ISR uranium production company in the United States. Industry experts with extensive knowledge and experience in all aspects of ISR uranium operations and the nuclear fuel cycle lead the team. Contact us for more information!