October 24, 2009

Cameco Starts Dewatering Cigar Lake Project Friday 23rd October 2009

An aerial view of the Cigar Lake mine, where efforts to plug a leak are ongoing
Birds Eye View

Uranium producer Cameco Corporation has resumed dewatering of the flooded Cigar Lake project, in Saskatchewan, but will only provide guidance on when production at the mine could begin once it has seen the conditions underground and adjusted its development plans accordingly.

The company has now sealed the inflow that opened up in August last year, and expects it will need between six and 12 months to fully dewater and secure the mine, depending on what conditions are like in the shaft and underground workings.

The inflow that began last summer on the 420 level has been remediated by remotely placing an inflatable seal between the shaft and the source of the inflow and subsequently backfilling and sealing the entire development behind the seal with concrete and grout.

The 420 level is not part of future mine plans, the company said.

“Cameco will provide an estimated production start date after the water has been pumped out of the mine, the condition of the underground development has been assessed, and the findings incorporated in the new mine development and production plans,” the company said.

The mine was expected to start production as early as 2008, before a rock fall caused a flood in October 2006, forcing the company to halt development.

Cameco only received approval to start dewatering the mine in June last year, after successfully testing an underground seal, and was approaching the bottom of shaft one when the mine flooded once again in August.

The company now has approval from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to dewater and secure the underground areas and has applied for a licence amendment that would allow it to complete the remediation and mine construction.

The plans to dewater, re-enter, inspect and secure the mine were developed together with the CNSC and the Saskatchewan ministries of Environment and Advanced Education, Employment and Labour.

Cameco is the operator of the Cigar Lake project, and owns 50%, while Paris-based Areva holds 37%, Idemitsu Canada Resources owns 8% and Tepco Resources owns the remaining 5%.

The project contains proven and probable reserves of more than 226,3-million pounds of uranium oxide.

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