Uranium & Fuel

Covid-19 / Cameco To Restart Cigar Lake Mine After December Pandemic Shutdown

By Kamen Kraev
12 April 2021

Company says it has financial capacity to handle disruptions
Cameco To Restart Cigar Lake Mine After December Pandemic Shutdown
The Cigar Lake facility in northern Saskatchewan. Image courtesy Cameco.
Canada-based uranium miner Cameco is planning to restart production at its Cigar Lake uranium mine in northern Saskatchewan in April, the company said in a statement on Friday.

Cameco suspended operations at Cigar Lake in mid-December 2020 because of the increasing risks posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The company said at the time that the availability of workers in critical areas was shrinking, with more individuals screening out or living in communities with pandemic-related travel restrictions.

With the restart of Cigar Lake, Cameco will closely monitor the Covid-19 case counts and the progress of the vaccine rollout, and will continue dialogue with public health authorities and northern Saskatchewan leaders.

Cameco’s chief executive officer Tim Gitzel said the company has established a licensed Covid-19 testing facility at the Cigar Lake site after working closely with the Saskatchewan health authorities.

Cameco said the timing of the production restart and the production rate at Cigar Lake will be dependent on how quickly the company will be able to remobilise the workforce.

Updates on the 2021 performance outlook will only be possible after it becomes clear what the actual sustained production rate will be at the mine.

A December 2020 statement said Cigar Lake’s suspension would hit Cameco’s bottom line, costing it between CAD8m ($6.2m) and CAD10m per month.

However, the company said last week that its “strong balance sheet” has provided the financial capacity to manage the production disruption at the mine.

As of 31 December 2020, Cameco had CAD943m in cash and short-term investments and a CAD1 bn undrawn credit facility, the company said.

The Cigar Lake operation is owned by Cameco (50.025%), Orano Canada Inc. (37.1%), Idemitsu Canada Resources Ltd. (7.875%) and Tepco Resources Inc. (5.0%) and is operated by Cameco.

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