SASKATCHEWAN – The second shaft at the Cigar Lake uranium project reached the mine workings 480 metres below surface on Jan. 3, 2012. The project is operated by Cameco (50%) of Saskatoon. Areva Resources Canada (37%), Idemitsu Uranium (8%) and Tepco Resources (5%) hold equity stakes in the project.
The second shaft will provide for improved ventilation underground and an additional means of accessing or exiting the mine.
“The breakthrough is a key milestone on our path to safe, clean and reliable production from this exceptional orebody,” said Cameco president and CEO Tim Gitzel. “We expect to resume full mine development and construction activities in 2012 and remain on track to start ore mining by mid-2013.”
Construction at Cigar Lake was begun in 2005, and development had to be halted in June 2005 when the workings were flooded following a major inflow of brine via the second shaft. Originally, Cameco thought construction would be delayed six months and the extra costs would amount to 10% or 20% of the original $520 million construction budget. The remediation eventually cost in the neighbourhood of $102 million. It was carried out in phases that included cement injection at the problem area, installation of freezing equipment, securing areas where future rockfalls might start more water problems, and rehabilitating all the underground systems such as ventilation and pumping.
During 2011 the rehabilitation was completed and regulatory approvals were secured for a revised mining plan and increased discharge capacity for treated water. Freezing the orebody from surface has also begun.
Information about the high grade Cigar Lake deposit is posted at www.Cameco.com.