Cameco has operated mines and mills in northern Saskatchewan for more than a quarter century. Today, we produce about 16% of the world's mined uranium with the majority coming from this region. Uranium products from Saskatchewan’s north are used exclusively to generate clean electricity in nuclear power plants around the world.
Our current business operations in northern Saskatchewan include the following:
Tier-one operations - Cigar Lake
Cigar Lake is the world's second largest high-grade uranium deposit, with grades that are 100 times the world average. The mine began operation in 2014, and is one of our three material properties. As expected, now at full production, the operation is producing 18 million lbs (100% basis) of uranium annually. Our share is 9 million lbs.
- licensed to June, 2021
- uses high-pressure jet-boring mining technique, invented specifically for this deposit
- the ore slurry is trucked in special containers to AREVA's McClean Lake mill 70 kms northeast
- 532 people (including contractors) are employed; almost half from northern Saskatchewan's
- nearest community is Wollaston Lake, by air about 40 km south east
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Tier-one operations - McArthur River / Key Lake
McArthur River is the world's largest high-grade uranium mine. Ore grades within the deposit are 100 times the world average. 80 kms southwest, Key Lake remains the world's largest high-grade uranium mill. Since 2000, together these two operations have produced more than 535 million pounds of uranium concentrates.
- in 2018, production at McArthur River/Key Lake is temporarily suspended
- licensed to October 31, 2023 (both properties)
- ore slurry from McArthur River is trucked in special containers 80 kms southwest to Key Lake where it’s milled and blended for processing with low-grade ore stockpiled at the mill
- the McArthur River/Key Lake operations employ about 1080 people including long-term contractors. 54% are from northern Saskatchewan.
- nearest village by road is Pinehouse, 220 km south of Key Lake and 300 km south of McArthur River
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Tier-two curtailed operation - Rabbit Lake
In the second quarter of 2016, due to weak market conditions, Cameco's Rabbit Lake facility was transitioned into care and maintenance.
The Rabbit Lake operation, which opened in 1975, is the longest operating uranium facility in North America and the second largest uranium mill in the world. It is 100% owned by Cameco and has produced more than 203 million pounds of uranium concentrates since opening.
- licensed to October 31, 2023
- a multi-year, site-wide reclamation plan is underway to reclaim areas no longer in use
- nearest village is Wollaston Lake is 60 km by air
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Millennium Mine Project
Millennium Project is a proposed uranium mine in northern Saskatchewan. The 590 hectare claim, which was designated as a separate project under the Cree Extension Joint Venture, the Millennium deposit is located in the south-eastern portion of the Athabasca Basin, approximately 35 km north of Cameco's Key Lake operation.
Since its discovery, Cameco has continued to explore the deposit, conducted feasibility studies, and commenced environmental assessments and community consultations. Our studies indicate the deposit is smaller than Cigar Lake and is located roughly 600 meters below surface.
- Discovered in 2000
- Proposed mine type is underground
- No work is planned at Millennium. Further progress towards a development decision is not expected until market conditions improve.
Our exploration program is directed at replacing mineral reserves as they are depleted by our production, and is key to sustaining our business. However, during this period of weak uranium prices, and as we have ample idled production capacity, we have reduced our spending to focus only on exploration near our existing operations where we have established infrastructure and capacity to expand.
We believe that we have some of the best undeveloped uranium projects in the world. In northern Saskatchewan alone, we have direct interests in 640,000 hectares (1.6 million acres) of land covering many of the most prospective exploration areas of the Athabasca Basin.
We will continue to focus on our core projects in Saskatchewan under our long-term exploration strategy. Long-term, we look for properties that meet our investment criteria, we may partner with other companies through strategic alliances, equity holdings and traditional joint venture arrangements. Our leadership position and industry expertise in both exploration and corporate social responsibility make us a partner of choice.
Our northern Saskatchewan uranium mining and milling operations are licensed by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) in accordance with the federal Nuclear Safety and Control Act and regulations. Our operations are also subject to provincial laws and regulations for the protection of workers and the environment. CNSC staff conducts regular site inspections and audits to verify that people and the environment are protected.