Cameco has operated mines and mills in northern Saskatchewan for more than a quarter century. Today, we produce about 17% 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:
Cigar Lake is the world's second largest high-grade uranium deposit, with grades that are 100 times the world average. Cigar Lake is considered one of the world's most technically challenging uranium deposits to mine. Commercial production began in May 2015 and the operation continues its ramp up schedule to licensed production capacity of 18 million pounds.
- 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
- 597 people (including contractors) are employed; over half are residents of Saskatchewan's north
- nearest community is Wollaston Lake, by air about 40 km south east
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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 291 million pounds of uranium concentrates.
- 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 Key Lake and McArthur River operations together employ about 1300 people including Cameco staff and 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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Prolonged weakness in market conditions required the suspension of production at our Rabbit Lake operation in the second quarter of 2016 and the facility has transitioned into care and maintenance.
The Rabbit Lake operation, which opened in 1975, 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
- At Millennium, no work is planned, as regulatory activity related to our final environmental impact statement continues to be on hold. Further progress towards a development decision is not expected until market conditions improve.
We believe that we have some of the best undeveloped uranium projects in the world. Our most rewarding holdings, remain within the Athabasca Basin region of northern Saskatchewan. Brownfield exploration, at or near our existing operations here, remains a vital part of Cameco's long-term exploration strategy.
In the current market environment, however, our primary focus is on uranium production and our tier-one assets. Work on all of our projects has been scaled back as we continue to await a signal from the market that additional production is needed prior to making any new development decisions.
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.