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Leading uranium producer

Mining activities are Orano’s core business. With uranium mines in operation in Canada, Kazakhstan and Niger, Orano is one of the world’s leading producers of uranium, with competitive production costs and extraction techniques at the cutting edge of innovation. Beyond mining, Orano conducts exploration and development projects in uranium-bearing zones, while also undertaking re-development and upgrading of former mines.
Somaïr Mine, Niger Open pit mine, Somaïr, Niger. © Maurice Ascani/Orano
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Mining activities, a pillar to the Orano offer

€1,079 M
in sales revenue
30%
of Orano’s sales revenue
3,445
employees
4
mining sites in 3 countries
7,263
tonnes of uranium produced
Top 3
of the global market

Operating at every stage of the uranium cycle

Committed  to responsible mining, Orano is a major player in the international uranium  industry. Having developed expertise at every stage -- exploration, development production, marketing and  re-development -- Orano is able to supply uranium for power generation to all its clients across the world.

+20
years: the visibility Orano has on production for its customers, thanks to a diversified portfolio of resources and reserves
Mining Innovation
© Orano

Our Front-End solutions

2016 responsible development report

Jul 19, 2019, 18:12 PM by Rédouane MERDAOUI
Download (pdf) 18850 KB

Press Release

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Operating on 4 continents to guarantee resource diversity

Responding to growing electricity needs across the world

As the world's nations strive to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050, while multiplying electricity production by a factor of two in response to growing demand, nuclear power remains a vital source, alongside renewable energies. Orano contributes by developing nuclear materials that will enable electricity production at a competitive price, particularly in China.

+17%
the expected increase in electricity demand between 2025 and 2015

Orano’s key mining and processing sites

 

Orano mines uranium ore in accordance with the characteristics of each deposit: grade, depth, environmental context, presence of by-products, and local geology.

Somaïr and Cominak Mines © Maurice Ascani / Orano
Katco, Cigar Lake © Amankulov Janarbek Aman / Orano
Canada, Orano Mining is partner to Cameco, in the Cigar Lake and McArthur River mines. © Orano Ressources Canada

Exploration for new uranium deposits to ensure sustainable supply

To develop a portfolio of resources and reserves  and  secure 20 years of production visibility, Orano dedicates significant resources to the search for new deposits. The Group carries out continual drilling campaigns, geophysical and geological studies. 

The exploration process, to confirm a new deposit, takes place over several years, from the discovery of the very first clues during prospecting, exploration by drilling until the confirmation of a potentially exploitable resource.
This exploration continues throughout the life of the mining project in an attempt to identify additional resources near the initial deposit. The prospecting is done in successive stages:

• geological study of the region
• interpretation of remote sensing images
• inspection of subsoils by geophysical methods
• measurements of radioactivity in the field
• study of soil and water chemistry
• conduct of surveys for the acquisition of in-situ geophysical data
• analysis of samples taken in soundings

These studies make it possible to detect potential uranium  resources and characterise deposits that can become the focus of future mining operations.

 

Exploration Programs :

  • Canada: Athabasca Basin
  • Ouzbékistan : Djengeldi Region

Delineation Programs :

  • Kazakhstan : Southern Kazakhstan with the South Tortkuduk project
  • Niger : Around operational mining sites

Developing profitable mines

It is the development phase  that determines the technical, economic and environmental viability of a mining project.

The key stages of the development process

  • Confirm resources identified by geologists
  • Characterize the deposit and the ore it contains
  • Choose the ore extraction and processing techniques most suitable using an industrial pilot phase
  • Identify and build the infrastructures needed to operate the mine
  • Assess the project’s societal and environmental impact at  the local level
  • Prepare the re-development plan

 

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Cutting-edge technologies to extract and process uranium ore

Multiple mining modes for improved yield

Orano holds expertise in mining for multiple types of mines, open-pit mines for shallow deposits and underground mines for access to deep deposits. The Group is an expert in the in situ recovery technique (ISR) for low-grade deposits; this technique is used only when the ore is located between impervious soil layers, as in Kazakhstan and Mongolia.

Jet Boring

Innovative techniques for non-conventional mines

The mining experts at Orano develop innovative techniques to exploit non-accessible mines using conventional techniques and to improve the performance of existing mines.

For example, for the Cigar Lake deposit (Canada), where the uranium content is extremely high and soils are saturated with water, Orano has developed a fully-automated hydraulic mining method known as Jet Boring so that not a single miner is in contact with the ore

 

McClean Lake plant in Canada McClean Lake Plant, Canada, employee © Orano

Jet Boring stages

  • Land frozen via a cooling liquid circulating in underground pipelines
  • Ore cut using a high-pressure water jet
  • Ore mixed with water collected and pumped to the surface

The Bessines Center for Innovation in Extractive Metallurgy (CIME)

In this internationally renowned laboratory, Orano improves mining processes and conducts research to design new ones.

CIME's website

CIME: New state-of-the-art facility

Uranium ore processing: from leaching to concentration

The ore is crushed immediately upon exiting the mine, then turned into a solution using chemical reactants. This ore treatment process, referred to as lixiviation, precedes the purification stage. The uranium is then extracted from the solution by a precipitation process before being purified, dried and calcined to result in a natural uranium concentrate: yellow cake, which contains 80% uranium (or 800 kg per ton).

Two leaching methods are used depending on the grade and nature of the ore:  

  • Static leaching for low-grade ores: the ore is stored in piles in a sealed zone, and watered with a suitable chemical solution.
  • Dynamic leaching: the process is carried out in a liquid medium, in tanks.

Yellow Cake, concentrated uranium Yellow Cake, concentrated uranium © Maurice Ascianio / Orano
Uranium grades can range from 220g per tonne of ore in Mongolia to 200kg per tonne of ore in Canada
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The issues at stake in re-developing and enhancing former uranium mines

Reintegrating the site into the environment and within the populations

Redeveloping and conducting environmental monitoring on mining sites bring many disciplines into play. A full-fledged area of industrial expertise re-development is taken into consideration from the very start of the mining project and is aimed at limiting the impact on the population and environment to the lowest level reasonably possible.

Re-developing and conducting environmental monitoring on former mining sites requires real know-how. Orano Mining was entrusted with this public service mission by the French State, even when the Group was not an operator, because of its recognised expertise in mining management and its commitment to environmental and  social responsibility.

  • Stakeholder consultation and compliance with international regulations
  • De-commissioning at existing facilities
  • Re-development  and  re-greening at former sites
  • Surveillance both radiological and environmental
  • Managing land restoration projects  
The Bosc mining site, Technology Park, Lodève, France The Bosc mining site in the Hérault in France was remediated from 1998 to 2002. The Bosc site now has a second diversified life: plans for a Technology Park, the Regional Park of Economic Activities and 35,354 photovoltaic panels operated by a subsidiary of GDF Suez. © Orano

Giving a new life to former mining sites

Developing a new life, or restoring, former mining sites is part of Orano Mining's desire to develop its land assets on the territory and help maintain a local socio-economic fabric.

The restoration plan is drawn up following coordination of all the local stakeholders involved. It guarantees former mining sites a future and integrates them  into the region, by developing business operations, recreational activities or conservation for sites with high environmental value.

   

A successful mining site redevelopment project

The mining site in Bosc (Hérault):

  • Redevelopment carried out between 1998 and 2002
  • Site surface area: 220.5 hectares
  • Institution of a solar power plant in 2013
  • 35,354 photovoltaic plants installed, or 13 million kWh
235

former uranium mining sites managed in France
Experience in re-development in France, Canada, the United States and Gabon.

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Orano Mining: sustainable commitments in the field

Orano Miningis supporting the NGO FXB
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Orano Miningis committed through the creation of jobs and local businesses
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Orano, a responsible mining player

Water quality monitoring near the ore processing plant McClean Lake Mill plantMcClean Lake Mill plant. Contrôle de la qualité de l'eau près de l'usine de traitement du minerai de McClean Lake Mill au Canada. © Orano Mining Canada

Orano wants to be an efficient and exemplary player to secure the long-term development of its activities. As a responsible miner, its objective is, in a truly pro-active manner, to manage the social, environmental, societal and technico-economic issues arising from its activities at each stage of the mining cycle, in a sustainable, coordinated  and balanced manner. The Group is a member of the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) and is committed to adopting the principles established on the basis of the sector's best CSR practices and to working with other mining players to further advance them.

All mining sites in operation are ISO 14001 & OHSAS 18001 certified (Canada, Kazakhstan, Niger) as well as the Bessines plant in France
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Our social and environmental responsibility

Orano Mining RSE English Report 2020

The year 2020 was turned upside down by the COVID crisis. From the very beginning of the pandemic, Orano and all of its mining companies in Canada, Gabon, Kazakhstan, Namibia, Niger, Mongolia and Uzbekistan engaged in multiple solidarity actions. Aimed at employees and subcontractors, but also at local communities, these actions included the deployment of preventive measures, the provision of medical supplies, equipment and consumables, the training of medical teams, and also initiatives to raise awareness among the public. In the countries where we operate, we have devoted more than 1,200,000 euros to these initiatives.

The health crisis has had a significant impact on the mining industry and for preventive reasons led to the temporary closure of some of our mines and plants. Nevertheless, all our employees remained mobilized to fulfill our commitments and displayed great professionalism and solidarity.

To provide a transparent account of our CSR approach and our achievements in 2020, we are applying, as of this year, the new ICMM (International Council on Mining and Metals) standard, while conforming to the GRI guidelines.

I invite you to discover our report. Enjoy your reading,

Nicolas Maes
CEO Orano Mining

Our previous CSR reports

2016 responsible development report

Jul 19, 2019, 18:12 PM by Rédouane MERDAOUI
Download (pdf) 18850 KB
Gilles Récoché'interview, Safety and Integration Director in the Mining Activities Territories. © Orano
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