SASKATCHEWAN - Perhaps a reflection of the market's high interest in uranium, on Dec. 21, CAMECO CORP. announced its decision to proceed immediately with construction at the Cigar Lake project, the world's second largest, high-grade uranium deposit after McArthur River, also in the Athabasca Basin. The previous day, the CANADIAN NUCLEAR SAFETY COMMISSION had approved the construction licence for the project.
Cameco operates Cigar Lake on behalf of a joint venture consisting of itself (slightly larger than 50%), COGEMA RESOURCES INC. (a subsidiary of AREVA (37%)), IDEMITSU URANIUM EXPLORATION CANADA LTD. (8%) and TEPCO RESOURCES INC. (5%). A number of international customers have already entered into longer-term contracts with Cameco for a significant amount of future Cigar Lake production.
Construction is expected to start early in 2005 and take 27 months to complete. Production could begin in 2007, followed by a ramp-up period of up to three years, before the mine reaches full production of 18 million pounds per year. The construction budget is about $450 million that includes surface and underground facilities at Cigar Lake as well as changes to the milling facilities at McClean Lake and Rabbit Lake. Initially Cigar Lake ore will be processed at the mill at Cogema's McClean Lake operation, 70 kilometres northeast. As Cigar Lake production ramps up to full capacity, just over half of final uranium processing will be completed at Cameco's Rabbit Lake mill facility, pending regulatory approval.
Up to 350 workers will be employed at the Cigar Lake site during construction, with about 250 people permanently employed after production begins.
Further information is available from Alice Wong at (306) 956-6337 or www.cameco.com.