SASKATCHEWAN – The long delayed Cigar Lake uranium mine has begun shipping ore to the McClean Lake mill 70 km northeast of the mine. The project is 50% owned and operated by Cameco Corp. of Saskatoon. Areva Resources Canada, the 37.1% owner, operates the McClean Lake mill.
Cameco announced that construction at Cigar Lake would start immediately in December 2004. The deposit with grades as high as 19% U3O8 needed a new mining method to minimize worker exposure to radiation. The owners developed a method of jet boring. Development was challenging, but the project moved forward until April 2006 when flooding began. In October the project was abandoned until the water problems could be solved. Crews didn’t re-enter the 420 main working level until February 2010.
The cost of remediation eventually topped $100 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.
Finally, a Q1 2014 start-up date was announced, and Cigar Lake is finally becoming a producer. Final cost of the project was about $2.6 billion.
“Cigar Lake is among the most technically challenging mining projects in the world,” said Tim Gitzel, president and CEO of Cameco. “The start of ore production is a tremendous achievement and I want to thank the many hundreds of people who helped to bring this exceptional orebody into production.”
Milling of Cigar Lake ore is to begin in the second quarter of this year.
Additional details and key facts about the Cigar Lake mine are posted at Cameco.com.