Cameco announced today that ore production has begun at the Cigar Lake uranium mining operation in northern Saskatchewan.
The mining system and underground processing circuits are operational and ore is being transported to the McClean Lake mill operated by AREVA Resources Canada Inc. which is located 70 kilometres northeast of the minesite.
"Cigar Lake is among the most technically challenging mining projects in the world," said Tim Gitzel, president and CEO of Cameco, the operator and 50.025% owner of Cigar Lake. "The start of ore production is a tremendous achievement and I want to thank the many hundreds of people who helped to bring this exceptional orebody into production.
"Uranium from Cigar Lake is expected to fuel clean electricity production around the world for many years while providing quality employment and business opportunities for a generation of Saskatchewan people."
The McClean Lake mill is expected to begin processing the ore to uranium concentrate by the end of the second quarter of 2014. The mill is expected to produce between 2 million and 3 million pounds of uranium concentrate in 2014 and ramp up to its full production rate of 18 million pounds by 2018.
As at December 31, 2013, the total capital cost of the Cigar Lake project was estimated at $2.6 billion. Up to 1,000 people worked at the site during construction and the mine will employ more than 600 highly-skilled workers during operation. The majority of the workers are residents of Saskatchewan's north.
Cameco is one of the world's largest uranium producers, a significant supplier of conversion services and one of two Candu fuel manufacturers in Canada. Our competitive position is based on our controlling ownership of the world's largest high-grade reserves and low-cost operations. Our uranium products are used to generate clean electricity in nuclear power plants around the world. We also explore for uranium in the Americas, Australia and Asia. Our shares trade on the Toronto and New York stock exchanges. Our head office is in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.