The Cigar Lake mine in northern Saskatchewan. — Photo from Cameco website.Bailey Sutherland, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jul 29, 2022 at 11:10

By Bailey Sutherland, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Cameco has released its operating results today for the second quarter that ended on June 30, along with some future predictions for what’s in store for the northern Saskatchewan mines of Cigar Lake, McArthur River and Key Lake. 

As announced in May, the uranium company acquired Idemitsu Canada Resources LTD.’s 7.875% participating interest in the Cigar Lake Joint Venture. Cameco’s ownership stake now stands at 54.547%, 4.522 percentage points higher than prior to the transaction. 

Cameco also successfully caught up on development work that was deferred in 2021. They expect to produce 18 million pounds at Cigar Lake this year; their share including the newly increased ownership will equal approximately 9.5 million pounds. 

During the quarter, Cameco continued to advance the recruitment, training and operational readiness activities at the McArthur River mine and Key Lake mill.

There are currently 670 employees and long-term contractors employed at the mine and mill. When operations are resumed later this year, Cameco expects this number to rise to approximately 850. 

Operational readiness activities are transitioning from construction to early-stage commissioning of their mining and milling circuits. Critical automation and digitization projects are being tied into existing infrastructure. In addition, asset condition assessments and subsequent repair and reassembly of all equipment at McArthur River and Key Lake are winding down. 

However, Cameco has seen some delays to their work schedule at the Key Lake mill. On top of normal commissioning issues as they systematically integrate new assets with updated operating systems after four years, they have encountered some challenges with respect to the availability of critical materials, equipment and skills. 

“We have adjusted our schedule to accommodate these delays and anticipate first production will be deferred to later in the fourth quarter,” reads the July 27 Cameco report. “As a result, we are expecting up to 2 million pounds production (100% basis) this year.”

Although the split between Cigar Lake and McArthur River/Key Lake has changed, Cameco’s overall share of production from their tier-one assets remain unchanged at up to 11 million pounds for 2022. 

“We believe we have the right strategy to achieve our vision of ‘energizing a clean-air world’ and we will do so in a manner that reflects our values,” said Tim Gitzel, Cameco’s president and CEO. “Embedded in all our decisions is a commitment to addressing the environmental, social and governance risks and opportunities that we believe will make our business sustainable over the long term.”

This item reprinted with permission from Daily Herald, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan