Canada’s Cameco (TSX:CCO) (NYSE:CCJ), the world’s third-biggest uranium miner, expects to produce between 6 and 8 million pounds of concentrate at its fairly new Cigar Lake operation this year.
The figure is substantially more than the 340,000 pounds generated in 2014, its first year of operations, said the company, and it reach its full annual production rate of 18 million pounds by 2018.
Along with the nearby McArthur River mine, Cigar Lake is easily the world’s richest uranium operation, with grades that are more than 100 times the world average. But terms of complexity, it’s roughly a million times the world average. It took 33 years of work to move the mine from discovery to production.
Ore mined at Cigar Lake is transported by truck to the McClean Lake mill, operated by Areva Resources Canada Inc, where it is processed to uranium concentrate.
The Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based company first expected to open Cigar Lake in 2007, but two floods pushed the launch of the mine well behind schedule.
Operator Cameco owns 50% of the mine, followed by Areva (37%), Idemitsu Canada (7.9%) and TEPCO Resources Inc. (5%). The McClean Lake mill is owned by Areva Resources Canada Inc. (70%), Denison Mines Inc. (22.5%) and OURD Canada Co. Ltd. (7.5%).
Image courtesy of Cameco.