Canadian mining company Cameco announced that it has reached the main mine workings at the Cigar Lake uranium project in northern Saskatchewan with a second shaft. It is a breakthrough Cameco chief executive officer Tim Gitzel called “a key milestone on our path to safe, clean and reliable production from this exceptional orebody.”
Gitzel announced in a statement, “We expect to resume full mine development and construction activities in 2012 and remain on track to start ore mining by mid-2013.”
Cigar Lake’s main mine workings were shut down by flooding in October 2006 and again in August 2008. The source of which was located 420 m (1,400 ft) below surface.
The world's largest undeveloped, high-grade uranium mine was originally planned to begin production in 2007.
Cameco crews isolated several levels from the rest of the mine, backfilled and sealed them. This helped Cameco achieve successful dewatering and clean up of the mine, and restore underground mine systems and infrastructure
On Jan. 3 miners removed the final section of rock connecting Shaft 2 with the mine workings 480 m (1,570 ft) below surface, the level where it has been determined the rock is stronger and is further below the water-saturated sandstone that surrounds the Cigar Lake orebody. The shaft will provide for increased ventilation of underground workings as well as additional means of entering and exiting the mine.
In addition to the sinking of the second shaft during 2011, Cameco also restored underground mine systems, infrastructure and development areas; secured regulatory approval and commenced construction of systems to increase discharge capacity for treated water; began orebody freezing from the surface; and developed and secured regulatory approval for a revised mine plan.
The Cigar Lake project is a joint venture involving Cameco, the operator at 50 percent, Areva Resources Canada at 37 percent, Idemitsu Resources Canada at 8 percent and Tepco Resources at 5 percent. The project’s proven and probable U3O8 reserves are estimated at 209.3 million lbs.