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The wait is over: Cameco commences uranium production at Cigar Lake mine

After 34 years of delays, one of the worlds richest uranium mines is finally coming to fruition. Cameco Corporationannounced last week the official sta...

|Sep 28|magazine8 min read

After 34 years of delays, one of the world’s richest uranium mines is finally coming to fruition.

Cameco Corporation announced last week the official start of production at the Cigar Lake uranium mine and McClean Lake mill in Saskatchewan, Canada, ending 34 years of holdups, troubles and legal delays.

"I thank all of our stakeholders and partners whose strong support helped us bring this rich and challenging deposit into production," said Cameco CEO Tim Gitzel. "This achievement took 10 years, great perseverance and technical creativity, and I commend the many people who contributed."

• Related content: [VIDEO] Cigar Lake Virtual Tour

"We are happy to celebrate these two major uranium mining assets in Saskatchewan, the Cigar Lake mine and the McClean Lake mill," said Olivier Wantz, member of the executive committee and senior executive vice-president, mining and front end business group for Areva Resources Canada Inc, which owns 37 percent of the project. "Their successful operation demonstrates the determination and expertise of our employees to ensure the safe start-up and continued production."

First discovered in 1981, Cigar Lake mine is the world’s second-largest high-grade uranium deposit after McArthur River. Although full scale construction began in 2005 with production planned for 2007, the project endured an array of problems from the beginning.

The mine was flooded in 2006 due to a catastrophic water inflow, with a second flooding occurring in 2008. Although remediation efforts were successful, the price of the project skyrocketed from $450 million to $2.6 billion. In 2014, mining at Cigar Lake began only to be suspended in July in order to allow the ore body to freeze more thoroughly.  During 2015, the McClean Lake mill processed and packaged 6.1 million pounds of uranium concentrate from Cigar Lake.

Cameo is expected to ramp up production to 18 million pounds by 2018.

Owners of the project include Cameco (50 percent), AREVA Resources Canada Inc. (37.1 percent), Idemitsu Canada Resources Ltd. (7.875 percent) and TEPCO Resources Inc. (5.0 percent). Cameco is the majority owner and operator. 

WATCH: [VIDEO] Cigar Lake Virtual Tour

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