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Cameco to resume production at Cigar Lake as wildfire threat subsides

The Cigar Lake uranium mine in northern Saskatchewan. Credit: Cameco

Cameco (TSX: CCO; NYSE: CCJ) announced that its regular workforce was returning on July 4 to the Cigar Lake uranium mine in northern Saskatchewan after a local wildfire prompted an evacuation and suspension of operations last week. The company is planning to restart production later this week.

About 230 workers were evacuated from the site on July 1 as a precaution due to the proximity of the Briggs wildfire burning nearby. By the next day, the wildfire had moved past the main camp area without serious impact to the site itself. Inspections indicate that no structural damage has occurred to any buildings and all assets appear intact.

In consultation with provincial wildfire management officials from the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency, Cameco has determined that the risk to Cigar Lake posed by the fire has now subsided.

With improved weather and smoke conditions, minimal likelihood of further road closures in the area, and all infrastructure at Cigar Lake remaining intact, the company has concluded that the full complement of personnel can be safely remobilized and regular operations resumed.

Cameco is now in the process of transporting employees and contractors back to site. Final inspections and preparation of equipment will occur over the days ahead to ready the operation for a return to production.

Cigar Lake is the world’s highest grade uranium mine, producing ore in 2020 with an average grade of 15.92% uranium oxide. The mine’s ore is processed 70 km northeast, at the McClean Lake mill, operated by Orano.

Cameco owns 50% of the Cigar Lake mine and is project operator. The other owners are Orano Canada (37%), Idemitsu Canada Resources (8%), and TEPCO Resources (5%).

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)