Renewed licences are for two mines and mill in Saskatchewan
Canada’s nuclear regulator has renewed licences that authorise Cameco to continue to operate the Key Lake, McArthur River and Rabbit Lake uranium sites in northern Saskatchewan for an additional 20 years.
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) said the renewed licences for Key Lake and McArthur River are valid until 31 October 2043 and the licence for Rabbit Lake until 31 October 2038.
CNSC said one of the licence renewal conditions is that Cameco must provide “comprehensive updates” on activities at the three sites. For Key Lake the updates are due in 2030 and 2037, for McArthur River they are also due in 2030 and 2037, and for Rabbit Lake in 2030.
Cameco applied for 20-year licence renewals on 4 November 2022.
Rabbit Lake and McArthur River are both uranium mines. Key Lake is a mill that processes uranium ore.
Cameco put the Rabbit Lake Operation into a state of care and maintenance in 2016 because of economic factors. CNSC said Cameco has not indicated whether it plans to restart production at Rabbit Lake.
Production was suspended at McArthur River and Key Lake for approximately four years beginning in January 2018 due to what it called “persistent weakness in the global uranium market”.
Cameco said recently it was lowering its 2023 production guidance due to challenges at Key Lake and another uranium mine, Cigar Lake, also in Saskatchewan.
The company expects the Cigar Lake mine to produce up to 16.3 million pounds of uranium concentrate at a 100% basis in 2023. Cameco previously estimated the mine would generate 18 million pounds of uranium.
In August, Cameco raised its consolidated revenue outlook for 2023 as demand for nuclear power grows in the transition away from fossil fuels, even as the company reported a 14% drop in revenue in its second quarter.