The growing deficit between primary uranium supply from mines and the demand for nuclear power is a key driver for South Africa’s uranium-mining industry.
This is stated in the ‘Uranium Mining Industry Outlook in South Africa to 2015 – Reserves, Production, Uranium Mines, Regulations and Key Companies’ report published by business information company GlobalData.
“South Africa is planning to increase uranium production owing to the increasing demand for nuclear fuel from the Asia-Pacific region, especially from China and India. South Africa’s reliance on the mining industry for its economic development and the mining-friendly nature of the country are the other chief drivers for the growth of its uranium-mining industry.
“The market dynamics of uranium pricing owing to the spot price of uranium are acting as key barriers for the development of this sector in South Africa,” the report states.
GlobalData says the vast uranium deposits, and uranium recovered from gold tailings, provide opportunities for new players in South Africa’s uranium-mining industry.
The report also states that South Africa, being a developing economy, has been witnessing intense changes in its political structure, creating uncertainty and risks for various prospective investors.
“However, the country has vast deposits of minerals, such as gold and uranium. The country also has unexploited areas containing high-grade uranium ores and many low-grade ores, which have poten- tial for exploration. Thus, South Africa is a lucrative destination for miners looking to undertake uranium mining in the country.
“The uranium mineralisation in South Africa occurs along with gold deposits. Hence, South Africa presents numerous opportunities for gold miners to mine uranium by mining gold deposits, and also from the tailings of mines.”
South Africa’s uranium reserves of 433 895 t in 2009 place it in fifth position , contributing about 6,9% to the world’s total reserves and about 45,6% of the Middle East and Africa region’s total.
South Africa’s uranium production fluctuated between 2000 and 2009, when it produced about 798 t of uranium in 2000 and peaked at about 878 t in 2001, the report states.
From 2002, the country’s production showed a decreas- ing trend and reached about 573,5 t of uranium in 2008. However, uranium production marginally increased to about 547 t in 2007 from 536 t in 2006.