Cameco revises timeline for Cigar Lake

March 2, 2012 - 11:16am
Cameco's Cigar Lake project. Photo courtesy of paNOW.
Cameco's Cigar Lake project. Photo courtesy of paNOW.

Cameco Corporation has updated its production timeline for the Cigar Lake uranium mine in Northern Saskatchewan and it means a later start date.

The project touted as the world's largest undeveloped high-grade uranium deposit is now on track to see first ore production by the fourth quarter of 2013 — several months later than anticipated, said Cameco spokesman Rob Gereghty on Wednesday.

“We’re pleased with the progress we’re making to bring this valuable ore body into production. Our recent technical report has indicated that we will begin production at the beginning fourth quarter in 2013. That will mean a slight reduction in overall production for the year because we are starting late.”

Cigar Lake was on track to see first ore production in mid-2013, however the later start date means output next year is now forecast to be about 300,000 pounds, compared with its previous estimate of one million pounds.

The project has seen its share of challenges in recent years, including multiple floods which have delayed start up.

“Over the last couple of years we’ve had an opportunity to go underground, to do our remediation activities and to get a better idea of what work is required to get this ore body into production. Now that we’ve had a good opportunity to look, we’ve come out with this revised production start date,” Gereghty said.

Aside from a new production date, Cameco’s operating and capital costs for the project have increased by about $190 million according to the technical report.

“That would be attributed to our surface freeze strategy, improvements to the mine plan and general cost escalations, labor and materials of that nature.”

Despite the delay Gereghty said the company is not viewing this as a significant setback.

“We said we were going to bring this ore to production, but we were going to do it safely with the assurance of success. We’ve been meticulous in how we’ve progressed through this process.”

Cameco plans to extract more than 200 million pounds from Cigar Lake over the 15 year life span of the mine.

The mine is considered a key to the company doubling uranium production by 2018.

Edited by News Talk Radio's Sabeen Ahmad.