Production milestone for Cigar Lake

16 December 2015

Uranium production at Cigar Lake in northern Saskatchewan has surpassed 10 million pounds (3846 tU) of uranium concentrate, Cameco has announced.

Cigar Lake in operation (Image: Cameco)

Mining at Cigar Lake started in March 2014, nine years after construction began. Uranium concentrate from the mine is produced at the McClean Lake facility, 70 kilometres from the mine. The first packaged uranium concentrate from the mine was produced at McClean Lake in October 2014 and the mine was declared in commercial operation in May.

Cameco said that Cigar Lake achieved its initial 2015 production target range - 6 million to 8 million pounds U3O8 (2308 to 3077 tU) - during the third quarter of the year. Full 2015 production will be reported in the company's fourth quarter results, due to be released on 5 February 2016.

"Cigar Lake is performing beyond our expectations," Cameco president and CEO Tim Gitzel told World Nuclear News. "Surpassing 10 million pounds in the mine's first full year of production gives us full confidence that we will achieve our targeted production rate of 18 million pounds by 2018."

Cigar Lake is owned by Cameco (50.025%), Areva Resources Canada (37.1%), Idemitsu Canada Resources (7.875%) and Tepco Resources (5.0%) and is operated by Cameco. The McClean Lake operation is owned by Areva (70%), Denison Mines (22.5%) and OURD Canada (7.5%) and operated by Areva.

Cigar Lake's high-grade uranium deposit is located at depths of 410 metres to 450 metres below the surface, with the orebody at the boundary between dry basement rock and water-bearing sandstone. This means that the ore zone and surrounding ground must be frozen before mining to prevent water from entering the mine workings and to stabilize weak rock formations. The ore is removed by jet boring, using a high-pressure water jet to mine out cavities in the frozen ore. The mixture of ore and water is then pumped to underground grinding and processing circuits. Thickened ore slurry is pumped to the surface and transported in tanker trucks to McClean Lake where it is processed into uranium concentrate.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News