Mine Site News (June 01, 2000)
Uranium Mine Commissioning On-Track
The McArthur River underground uranium mine in northern Saskatchewan (CMJ, June 1999) is progressing according to schedule in its two-year ramp-up phase, and anticipating commercial production starting the second half of this year, according to Cameco Corp.’s first quarter financial results. McArthur River is the world’s largest high-grade uranium mine, with year-end-1999 reserves of 505,000 tonnes grading 22.15% U3O8.
About 1.2 million pounds of U3O8 were mined to the end of March, 2000. The production target for the year remains at 11 million pounds U3O8, of which 70% will go to the operator, Cameco, and the rest to Cogema Resources Inc. The mine is expected to reach full annual production of 18 million pounds in 2002.
Experience gained during commissioning has led to adaptations in various systems. The raise-boring method for mining the orebody is proving to be satisfactory, achieving good directional controls and rates of advance. The anticipated grade of the deposit is being confirmed. Reaming heads 2.4 m in diameter are being used, but a 3.0-m-diameter unit demonstrated productivity improvements during testing.
Difficulties with the underground ore conveyance and processing facilities caused the underground ore storage capacity to become temporarily unavailable, thereby restricting the overall output of the mine. Following regulatory approvals, construction began on modification to the underground facilities. The improved systems, including the underground ore storage capacity, will become operational during the second quarter.
The procedures to protect employees from radiation exposures, arising from mining high grade uranium ore, are working well, according to the news release.
One Million Hours Worked-Zero Lost Time Injuries
Employees at Battle Mountain Gold’s Holloway mine have reached a remarkable safety milestone. At the stroke of midnight on March 14, 2000, the employees had worked one million hours without a lost time accident.
“The unique attainment of one million hours worked without a lost time injury is astounding,” says John A. Keyes, president and chief operating officer, Battle Mountain Gold.
The mine has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to safety issues, and every safety concern is investigated. A mine spokesperson says that both supervisors and employees are thorough and consistent when it comes to safety, while being dedicated regarding production.
The success of Holloway can be attributed to the professional manner in which employees work as an effective team, and an entire management system that puts a priority on safety.