Total uranium drilling was 1,518 holes covering 0.9 million feet, 13% fewer holes than in 2015. Expenditures for uranium drilling in the United States were $29 million in 2015, an increase of 2% compared with 2014.
Mining, production, shipments, and sales
U.S. uranium mines produced 3.7 million pounds U3O8 in 2015, 24% less than in 2014. One underground mine produced uranium ore during 2015, one less than during 2014. Uranium ore from underground mines is stockpiled and shipped to a mill, to be milled into uranium concentrate (a yellow or brown powder). Additionally, seven in-situ-leach (ISL) mining operations produced solutions containing uranium in 2015, one less than in 2014, that was processed into uranium concentrate at ISL plants. Overall, there were eight mines that operated during part or all of 2015.
Total production of U.S. uranium concentrate1 in 2015 was 3.3 million pounds U3O8, 32% less than in 2014, from seven facilities: one mill in Utah (White Mesa Mill) and six ISL plants (Crow Butte Operation, Hobson ISR Plant/La Palangana, Lost Creek Project, Nichols Ranch ISR Project, Smith Ranch-Highland Operation, and Willow Creek Project). The six ISL plants are located in Nebraska, Texas and Wyoming.
Total shipments of uranium concentrate from U.S. mill and ISL plants were 4.0 million pounds U3O8 in 2015, 12% less than in 2014. U.S. producers sold 3.6 million pounds U3O8 of uranium concentrate in 2015 at a weighted-average price of $42.86 per pound U3O8.
Total employment in the U.S. uranium production industry was 625 person-years in 2015, a decrease of 21% from the 2014 total and the lowest since 2004. Exploration employment was 58 person-years, a 33% decrease compared with 2014. Mining employment was 251 person-years, and increased 2% from 2014. Milling and processing employment was 200 person-years, a 32% decrease from 2014. Reclamation employment decreased 28% to 116 person-years from 2014 to 2015. Uranium production industry employment for 2015 was in 9 States: Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.