Uranium consumption worldwide
Uranium is a heavy metal that occurs in many rocks as well as in sea water. Its high density allows it to be used in the keels of yachts as well as for radiation shielding. However, it is most commonly known for its use as a source of concentrated energy in nuclear power plants. Under specialized nuclear reactors, various radioisotopes of uranium can be produced to use in medicine, food preservation, and industrial agriculture. For example, radioactive chemical tracers can be used in the diagnosis of the human body. Uranium is generally extracted through open-pit and underground mines, however, with advances in technology, alternative methods such as in-situ leach mining have become more prominent.
Uranium consumption is the highest in the United States, France, and Russia, as of 2016. However, Kazakhstan and Canada are among the top producers of uranium with around 23,800 metric tons and 13,300 metric tons produced in 2015, respectively. In fact, the United States receives much of its uranium from Canada. Australia has some of the largest known recoverable uranium resources in the world with some 1.17 million metric tons as of 2014. Areva, headquartered in Paris, is one of the largest uranium producers in the world, producing some 10,500 metric tons in 2015. Areva is the only company that has established itself in all industrial aspects of nuclear energy including mining, chemistry, engineering, nuclear reactors, and recycling.