SASKATCHEWAN – Cameco Corp. reported on Oct. 8 that the first uranium concentrate has been made from ore mined at the high grade Cigar Lake mine in the Athabasca Basin. The ore was processed at the McClean Lake mill 70 km northeast of the mine and operated by Areva Resources Canada.
Mining at Cigar Lake began in March 2014, and so far Cameco has delivered about 1,400 tonnes of ore to the McClean Lake mill. Mining was suspended in July to allow the orebody to freeze more thoroughly, but it resumed the first week of September.
The 2014 target is to produce 1 million lb of uranium from Cigar Lake ore. When full production is reached in 2018, annual production will be 18 million lb.
Cameco, half owner of the Cigar Lake mine, estimated the total capital cost of the project at $2.6 billion. Grades as high as 19% U3O8 necessitated the creation of an innovative jet boring mining method. The project was delayed four years by flooding during development.
“Cigar Lake is among the world’s richest and most technically challenging orebodies and I congratulate all of the people who helped to bring it into production,” said Cameco president and CEO Tim Gitzel. “It provides Cameco with a large scale, low cost production centre and positions us to take full advantage of the long term growth we see coming in our industry.”
Click here to learn more about the jet boring technique and to view a gallery of Cigar Lake images.