SASKATOON – Canada’s Nuclear Safety Commission has given Cameco’s Cigar Lake uranium mine the green light.
It’s a significant step for the Saskatoon-based mining giant after eight years constructing the $1.1 billion project.
The company says they are pleased to have finally cleared the last hurdle.
“This allows us to move from a construction phase to a production phase and that’s a significant step for Cameco, also the fact that it’s a sign of confidence from our regulator is very encouraging,” said Rob Gereghty, a spokesperson for Cameco.
After construction kicked off in 2005 the mine was struck by inflow in 2006 and again in 2008.
[What is inflow? Maybe a brief sentence summary]
“The geology is probably the most significant challenge we face at Cigar Lake, being mindful of water and inflows, but we believe we have that well under control,” said Gereghty.
Premier Brad Wall welcomed the announcement.
“Cameco is a big part of our economy and this particular mine will be very, very significant. I think the increased production capacity is good for jobs and it’s good overall for Saskatchewan’s position in the world,” said Wall.
Jet boring for ore is due to start up this summer with 300,000 pounds of uranium expected to be produced by the end of 2013. That number will be ramped up to 8.2 million pounds by 2017, while creating 250 new jobs.
But the company says filling those jobs may also prove to be a challenge.
“People have a choice, contractors have choices so we have to work very hard to ensure that we’re competitive to offer the best package we possibly can to keep people working at our sites,” said Gereghty.
The premier says he’s been working with the federal government to secure new markets for uranium.
“Recently we’ve seen nuclear cooperation agreements with China and India, this means the opportunity for up to $3 billion more worth of uranium sales over the next 10 years – but we actually have to be able to produce it,” said Wall.
“The long term fundamentals of the industry are very good, we see a shortage globally that’s beginning to come so we will be there to fill that gap,” said Gereghty.
The operating license at Cigar Lake is valid until the end of June 2021.