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New Uranium Mining Projects - Canada: Cigar Lake   flag

(last updated 16 Jul 2014)

 

Cigar Lake Mining project (Saskatchewan)

> View Cigar Lake deposit details
> View Cigar Lake Environmental Incidents external link (Cameco)

> See also: Disposal of Cigar Lake waste rock in the McClean Lake mining facility's Sue C pit
> See also: Expansion of the JEB Mill at McClean Lake to receive and process Cigar Lake ore

 

Cameco announces further delay at Cigar Lake mine due to freezing problem

Canadian uranium miner Cameco Corp said on Wednesday (July 16) that some ore from its Cigar Lake, Saskatchewan, mine would not be milled until early 2015, instead of before the end of 2014, due to problems with a mining process that involves freezing the ore and the ground around it.
Cameco freezes the ore zone at Cigar Lake and the surrounding ground to prevent water from flooding production areas, but the process has not advanced as quickly as expected, the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based company said. As a result, it has temporarily stopped jet-boring, a system of using water under high pressure to carve out cavities in the ore body. (Reuters July 16, 2014)

Ore production begins at Cigar Lake mine

Cameco announced today (Mar. 13) that ore production has begun at the Cigar Lake uranium mining operation in northern Saskatchewan. The mining system and underground processing circuits are operational and ore is being transported to the McClean Lake mill operated by AREVA Resources Canada Inc. which is located 70 kilometres northeast of the minesite. (Cameco Mar. 13, 2014)

Mining begins at Cigar Lake

On Dec. 16, 2013, Cameco announced that jet boring in ore is underway at the Cigar Lake uranium project in northern Saskatchewan. Commissioning in ore for the underground mining and process equipment continues. Cameco is on track to begin ore production at Cigar Lake during the first quarter of 2014 as previously announced.

Cameco announces further delay for start of mining operations at Cigar Lake

During commissioning of the underground ore handling facilities in the mine, Cameco identified additional work that will delay jet boring in ore. Based on current information, Cameco expects to begin ore production during the first quarter of 2014. (Cameco Sep. 9, 2013)

> See also: Processing of Cigar Lake ore at McClean Lake mill to start with delay

CNSC renews construction license and issues operating license for Cigar Lake uranium mine project

Following a one-day public hearing, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) announced on June 13, 2013, its decision to issue a uranium mining licence to Cameco authorizing the construction and operation of its Cigar Lake Project located in northern Saskatchewan. The licence will be valid from July 1, 2013 until June 30, 2021.
> Download Notice of Public Hearing, Dec. 18, 2012 external link (PDF)
> Download Hearing Transcript April 3, 2013 external link (PDF)
> View CNSC release Jun. 13, 2013 external link
> Download Record of Proceedings

CNSC announces availability of participant funding on licence renewal for Cigar Lake uranium mine project

Deadline for submission of applications is December 7, 2012.
> View CNSC participant funding opportunities external link

Cameco, Areva sign milling arrangement to have all ore from Cigar Lake uranium mine processed at McClean Lake mill

On October 5, 2011, Cameco announced it has signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) with its joint venture partners to mill all Cigar Lake ore at the McClean Lake mill. The new milling arrangement is expected to result in a significant reduction in the operating cost of the Cigar Lake project, which is 50% owned and operated by Cameco. The other Cigar Lake joint venture partners are AREVA Resources Canada Inc. (37%), Idemitsu Resources Canada Inc. (8%) and Tepco Resources Inc (5%).
Binding agreements with the owners of the Cigar Lake project and McClean Lake mill are required to proceed with the new milling arrangements. Cameco expects these agreements to be concluded before November 30, 2011. In anticipation of these agreements, Cameco and AREVA are commencing work to implement the new arrangement. The McClean Lake mill is owned by the McClean Lake joint venture (70% AREVA, 22.5% Denison Mines Corp., and 7.5% OURD (Canada) Co., Ltd.) and operated by AREVA.
Under the current toll-milling agreements, both the McClean Lake mill and Cameco's Rabbit Lake mill would process uranium from Cigar Lake. Under the new arrangement, the McClean Lake mill would process and package 100% of Cigar Lake uranium. Cameco's Rabbit Lake mill will continue to process ore mined on the site and has the flexibility to process ore from other sources.
On Dec. 19, 2011, Areva and Cameco announced that agreements have been signed with the owners of the Cigar Lake project and McClean Lake mill to process all Cigar Lake ore at McClean Lake.

CNSC invites comment on Environmental Assessment Screening Report for the proposed Cigar Lake Water Inflow Management Project

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) will hold a hearing in June to consider the Environmental Assessment Screening Report (EASR) and licensing action related to the proposal by Cameco Corporation to construct and operate a new water management system at the Cigar Lake mine site. The facility is located in the Cigar Lake area in Northern Saskatchewan.
CNSC staff recommends the Commission to approve the EASR for the proposed Cigar Lake Water Inflow Management Project and approve the construction of the facilities for this project. The operation of the constructed facilities is subject to future approval and will require further details of the operational controls including regular compliance and follow-up program monitoring.
The Commission will consider Cameco's application by way of written submissions, in a closed session. CNSC staff recommendation and Cameco's submission will be available as of May 27, 2011 by contacting the Secretariat.
The public is invited to comment, in writing, on Cameco's application. Requests to intervene must be filed with the Secretary of the Commission by June 10, 2011.
> Download Notice of Hearing, May 6, 2011 external link (CNSC)
> Download revised Notice of Hearing, May 10, 2011 external link (CNSC)
> Download Record of Proceedings, including Reasons for Decision external link, June 28, 2011 (PDF - CNSC)

All-weather road project between McArthur River and Cigar Lake mine sites

CEAA invites comment on draft Scoping Document Guidelines for environmental assessment on construction of all-weather road between McArthur River and Cigar Lake mine sites:
The public is invited to provide comments on a draft Project-Specific Guidelines and Scoping Document which incorporates the requirements of the federal and provincial environmental assessment processes and identifies the key issues and studies to be addressed in an environmental impact statement.
Please provide your comments by November 29, 2010.
> View Notice of Commencement of an Environmental Assessment: Highway 914 - All-Weather Road between the McArthur River and Cigar Lake Mine Sites, Saskatchewan, Oct. 26, 2010 external link (CEAA)

On Feb. 2, 2011, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency announced that it has awarded $20,000 to three applicants to support their participation in the federal environmental assessment of the proposed Highway 914 - All Weather Roadway - McArthur River Mine Site to Cigar Lake Mine Site Project in Saskatchewan. The funding recipients are the Kineepik Métis Local, the English River First Nation external link and the Saskatchewan Environmental Society external link.

Cameco resumes drilling at Cigar Lake

Cameco is back to drilling at Cigar Lake after spending the past four years drying out the flooded underground development. (Prince Albert Daily Herald Sep. 4, 2010)

Cameco resumes underground development at Cigar Lake

On Feb. 11, 2010, Cameco Corp. announced that crews safely re-entered the main working level of the Cigar Lake mine, 480 metres below surface, on February 10, 2010.

Cigar Lake uranium project expected to be ready for development as early as April 2010

Cameco Corp. says it expects to have enough water pumped out of its flooded Cigar Lake uranium mine to resume development on the project by as early as April. CFO Kim Goheen said Friday (Jan. 22) that the company has already pumped most of the water out of the northern Saskatchewan mine, which has been flooded for three years. Goheen said refurbishment of shaft one, the main shaft, is three-quarters complete and the water level is down to the 475-to 480-metre level. "De-watering, and work to secure the underground developments, is expected to be complete between April and October of this year," he told investors in Whistler, B.C. "Crews have safely re-entered shaft one and are working to restore the ladder way, mechanical and electrical systems, including additional pumping to provide further assurance." (CP Jan 22, 2010)

Dewatering of flooded Cigar Lake uranium mine project has resumed

On Oct. 23, 2009, Cameco Corporation announced that dewatering of the underground development of the Cigar Lake project has resumed. The inflow on the 420 metre level that forced suspension of dewatering on August 12, 2008 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. It is currently expected to take six to 12 months to dewater and secure the mine depending on what conditions are found in the shaft and the underground workings.

CNSC approves Cigar Lake uranium mine construction license renewal

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), after holding a one-day public hearing (November 6, 2009), renewed Cameco Corporation's Cigar Lake Project Uranium Mine Construction Licence.
> Download CNSC Notice of Public Hearing, Aug. 31, 2009 external link (PDF)
> Download Hearing Transcript Nov. 6, 2009 external link (PDF)
> View CNSC release Dec. 23, 2009 external link
> Download Record of Proceedings, Including Reasons for Decision

Areva considers trucking ore from McArthur River mine to keep McClean Lake mill operating

> View here

Saskatchewan Environment invites comment on draft guidelines for EIS on Cameco's Water Inflow Management Project at Cigar Lake

Cameco Corporation is proposing to increase the Cigar Lake uranium mine's water-handling capabilities to manage future routine and potential non-routine mine water inflows. The new water-handling system would release the treated effluent directly into Seru Bay of Waterbury Lake.
Public comments on the draft guidelines for an Environmental Impact Statement are due by July 28, 2009.

> View Saskatchewan Environment Section 10 Notice 2009-003 external link

McClean Lake mill faces temporary shutdown until Cigar Lake mine operable (Saskatchewan)

> See here

CNSC starts screening level environmental assessment on Cigar Lake Water Inflow Management Project

On Feb. 18, 2011, CNSC invited public comment on the EIS prepared by Cameco, CNSC's Technical Review Comments, and the federal EA Screening Report.
Cameco Corporation is proposing to increase the Cigar Lake uranium mine's water-handling capabilities to manage future routine and potential non-routine mine water inflows. The new water-handling system would release the treated mine water directly into Seru Bay of Waterbury Lake.
Comments should be submitted by March 18, 2011.
> Download Request for Public Comment - federal Draft Environmental Assessment Screening Report, Environmental Impact Statement and provincial Technical Review Comments external link, Feb. 18, 2011 (PDF - CEAA)
> View Cigar Lake Water Inflow Management Project external link (CNSC)
> Download project documents external link (Sask. Min. of Environment)

On May 15, 2009, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) announced that it has received notice of intent and a project description from Cameco Corporation (Cameco) for an approval to modify the current water inflow management system to handle increased quantities of water inflow at the Cigar Lake mine, Saskatchewan. Before the Commission may consider a decision on licensing under the NSCA regarding Cameco's proposal, a screening level environmental assessment (EA) must be completed in compliance with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
On Dec. 11, 2009, the CNSC approved the Proposed Project-Specific Guidelines for the Preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement - Cigar Lake Water Inflow Management Project.
> See Cigar Lake Water Inflow Management Project external link (CNSC)
> Download Record of Proceedings, Including Reasons for Decision external link (543k PDF)

New groundwater inflow halts repair work at Cigar Lake mine

Cameco Corporation reports that remediation work at the No. 1 Shaft at its Cigar Lake uranium project was temporarily suspended on Aug. 12, 2008, after an increase in the rate of water inflow to the mine was observed.
No. 1 Shaft had been pumped down to 430 metres below surface when the increase was reported in the early morning of Aug. 12, 2008. Work in the shaft was suspended a few hours later. During the day, the inflow rate increased steadily to approximately 600 cubic metres per hour (m3/hr), which is beyond the range that can be managed while sustaining work in the shaft. The mine has a total depth of 500 metres and the mine underground workings are at the 480-metre level.
Work in the shaft has been suspended while the situation is assessed to determine the source and characteristics of the inflow, implications for planned remediation work and the impact, if any, on our planned production date. Our current plan is to allow the water level in the shaft to rise to approximately 100 metres below surface. (Cameco Aug. 12, 2008)

CNSC approves pumping of water out of flooded Cigar Lake mine

The CNSC and the Saskatchewan Ministries of Environment and Advanced Education, Employment and Labour have approved Cameco's plans to pump the water out of the mine and to inspect and safely secure the mine once it is pumped out. (Cameco June 27, 2008)
> Download Notice of Hearing, June 17, 2008 external link (PDF)
> Download Record of Proceedings, Including Reasons for Decision, June 27, 2008 external link (PDF)

CNSC to hold hearing on licence amendment for Cigar Lake remediation project

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) will hold a one-day public hearing (September 18, 2008) to consider an application by Cameco Corporation (Cameco) to amend its Cigar Lake construction licence. The requested licence amendment would authorize Cameco to proceed with the Cigar Lake remediation project. The application includes activities related to initiation and completion of Phases 2, 3 and 4, and a request for authorisation for further surface activities, completion of No. 2 Shaft and the continuation of the activities currently licensed. The public is invited to comment on Cameco's application. Requests to intervene must be filed by August 18, 2008.

> Download Notice of Public Hearing, June 26, 2008 external link (PDF)
> Download Cameco presentation to CNSC, July 18, 2008 external link (6.6M PDF)

On Aug. 29, 2008, Cameco requested deferral of the Cigar Lake Regulatory Hearing, in view of the new water inflow to the mine.

CNSC approves extension of the expiry date of the Cigar Lake construction licence for two years

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) held a one-day public hearing (Nov. 1, 2007) on the application by Cameco Corporation for an amendment to its Cigar Lake construction licence to extend the expiry date for an indeterminate period. On Dec. 3, 2007, CNSC announced the approval of a license amendment for two years.

> Download CNSC Notice of Public Hearing, Aug. 20, 2007 external link (PDF)
> Download Hearing Transcript Nov. 1, 2007 external link (PDF)
> View CNSC release Dec. 3, 2007 external link
> Download Record of Proceedings, including Reasons for Decision, Dec. 3, 2007 external link (PDF)

Second water inflow will delay Cigar Lake mine construction by at least a year

On Oct. 23, 2006, Cameco Corporation reported that Cigar Lake mine construction is expected to be delayed by at least a year after the mine experienced a significant water inflow following a rock fall and a portion of the underground development was allowed to fill with water. The incident began at 1:10 p.m. on Sunday, October 22, 2006, in the future production area that previously had been dry. There were no injuries and there was no impact on the environment. Production startup was previously planned for early 2008.
Cameco later reported that it was unable to contain the water inflow by closing bulkhead doors and that all underground areas of the Cigar Lake project are expected to be filled with water.
On Mar. 18, 2007, Cameco announced that production startup is targeted for 2010, subject to regulatory approval and timely remediation. Total flood remediation cost is estimated at C$92 million.
On April 3, 2007, Cameco issued a Technical Report on Cigar Lake, including an updated capital cost estimate and a production forecast that are considered necessary because of the October 23, 2006 water inflow.
> Download Technical Report March 30, 2007 external link (4.6M PDF - SEDAR)
On May 4, 2007, CAMECO released an investigation report on the inflow event:
> Download Underground development flood investigation and management response external link(1.2 MB PDF)
Cameco Corp. said its "deficient" development of the Cigar Lake mine contributed to a flood that delayed the project by three years and will double construction costs. Blasting by contract miners was performed with the wrong equipment and inadequate safeguards, producing a greater opening in the earth than specified and allowing the mine to flood with groundwater on Oct. 22, 2006, Cameco said in the report. "Insufficient assessment of the ongoing development, lack of quality control of the excavation and slow installation of ground support -- when taken together -- demonstrate" Cameco "failed to fully appreciate the degree of risk of developing in less than ideal ground conditions," Chief Operating Officer Tim Gitzel said in a May 2, 2007, letter to federal and provincial nuclear regulators that was included in the report. (Bloomberg May 4, 2007)
On Oct. 31, 2007, Cameco announced that the production startup date is now expected to be 2011, at the earliest.

Water inflow delays construction of Cigar Lake mine

Cameco Corporation announced that construction has been delayed at the second shaft of the Cigar Lake project in northern Saskatchewan. A water inflow began on April 5, 2006, at 5 p.m. at the bottom of the 6-metre wide shaft, 392 metres below the surface. All the workers safely left the area and removed equipment. There was no impact on the environment.
The second shaft will be primarily used for underground ventilation during production. The company’s preliminary assessment indicates that Cigar Lake production may be delayed by about six months and begin in late 2007. (Cameco Apr 6, 2006)
On May 4, 2007, CAMECO released an investigation report on the inflow event:
> Download Shaft #2 flood investigation and management response external link(3.8 MB PDF)

Cameco seeks approval for further processing of Cigar Lake uranium at Rabbit Lake mill

> View details

CNSC approves construction of Cameco's Cigar Lake uranium mine

> See also Cameco Regulatory Initiatives - Cigar Lake external link

On April 1, 2004, CNSC announced

On July 21, 2004, CNSC issued the license for the construction of surface facilities.

> Download CNSC Notice of Public Hearing external link (PDF)
> Download July 7, 2004 Updated Public Hearings Agenda external link (PDF)
> Download July 7, 2004 Hearing Transcript (construction of mining and support facilities) external link (PDF)
> Download July 7, 2004 Hearing Transcript (construction of surface facilities) external link (PDF)
> View CNSC release July 21, 2004 (construction of surface facilities) external link
> Download CNSC Record of Proceedings, including the Reasons for Decision, July 21, 2004 (construction of surface facilities) external link (PDF)

On Dec. 20, 2004, CNSC issued the full construction license.

> Download Nov. 17, 2004 Hearing Transcript external link (PDF)
> View CNSC release Dec. 20, 2004 (construction of the remaining mining and support facilities) external link
> Download CNSC Record of Proceedings, including the Reasons for Decision, Dec. 20, 2004 (construction of the remaining mining and support facilities) external link (PDF)

> Download Cameco Project description May 2003 update external link (3M PDF - Cameco)
> Download Cameco Construction, Operation and Decommissioning Environmental Assessment Study Report January 2004 external link (56M PDF - Cameco)
> Download Cameco Construction, Operation and Decommissioning Environmental Assessment Study Report February 2004 Addendum external link (2.1M PDF - Cameco)
> Download Cameco Construction license application July 2004 external link (3.3M PDF - Cameco)
> Download Cameco Surface construction CMD July 2004 external link (1.4M PDF - Cameco)

CNSC Environmental Assessment for the proposed construction of the Cigar Lake uranium mine

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) held a one-day public hearing (June 25, 2003) on the Environmental Assessment Guidelines (EA Guidelines) for the proposed construction of a mining facility at the Cigar Lake Project, located in northern Saskatchewan.
The draft EA Guidelines (scoping document) was made available to the public on May 9, 2003.
On Aug. 29, 2003, the CNSC "announced its approval of the Environmental Assessment Guidelines (Scope of Project and Assessment) that will be used to direct a screening environmental assessment of Cameco Corporation’s proposed construction of the Cigar Lake uranium mining facility near Wollaston Lake in northern Saskatchewan."

> View CNSC Release (Aug. 29, 2003) external link
> Download CNSC Record of Proceedings, including the Reasons for Decision (Aug. 29, 2003) external link (PDF)
> Download CNSC Hearing Transcript external link (PDF)

On March 3, 2004, CNSC issued a Request for Public Comment on the Screening Report - Cigar Lake Mine, Construction, Operation and Decommissioning.
> View CNSC announcement March 3, 2004 external link

On June 10, 2004, CNSC held a one-day hearing to consider the results of the Environmental Assessment Screening Report (EA Screening Report). On June 30, 2004, CNSC announced its conclusion that Cameco's proposed "construction and/or modification of the CigarLake uranium mine site facilities, taking into account identified mitigation measures, is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects". CNSC further decided not to refer the project to the federal Minister of the Environment for referral to a review panel or mediator.
> Download CNSC Notice of Public Hearing external link (PDF)
> Download June 10, 2004 Updated Public Hearings Agenda external link (PDF)
> Download Hearing Transcript June 10, 2004 external link (PDF)
> View CNSC release June 30, 2004 external link
> Download Record of Proceedings, including the Reasons for Decision, June 30, 2004 external link (PDF)

> View CNSC information on Environmental Assessment - Construction and Operation of the Cigar Lake Uranium Mine external link

> See also: Disposal of Cigar Lake waste rock in the McClean Lake mining facility's Sue C pit

Construction of Cigar Lake mine could start in 2003

Construction of the Cigar Lake uranium mine could begin some time in 2003 if the price of uranium remains high, says a spokesman for Cameco Corp. "We're applying for the licences to construct," Jamie McIntyre said. (Financial Post July 10, 2002)

CAMECO new operator of the Cigar Lake Project

On December 11, 2001, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), after a two-day public hearing (Oct. 4 and Nov. 15, 2001), issued a Uranium Mine Site Preparation Licence for the Cigar Lake Project to Cameco Corporation of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The previous license to CLMC was revoked.
> Download CNSC Release July 25, 2001 external link (PDF)
> Download Transcript of October 4, 2001, hearing external link (PDF)
> Download Transcript of November 15, 2001, hearing external link (PDF)
> View CNSC Release Dec. 11, 2001 external link
> Download CNSC Record of Decision Dec. 11, 2001 external link (PDF)

Site Preparation Licence issued for Cigar Lake Mine

On July 31, 2001, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) announced the decision to approve a site preparation licence for Cigar Lake Mining Corporation's (CLMC) Uranium Mine Site. The Cigar Lake Mining Corporation had applied to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission for a licence to continue to manage the Cigar Lake underground mine in a care and maintenance mode for a three-year period.
Hearings were held on May 29, 2001, and June 28, 2001.
> View CNSC News Release July 31, 2001 external link
> Download Record of Proceedings, Including Reasons for Decision, July 26, 2001 external link (PDF)
> Download Transcript of June 28, 2001 Hearing external link (PDF)
> Download Transcript of May 29, 2001 Hearing external link (PDF) (presentations by CLMC and CNSC staff)
> Download CNSC Release March 6, 2001 external link (PDF)

Cameco announces delay of Cigar Lake project

Cameco announced that the Cigar Lake mine will be delayed until 2005 because of the time needed for licensing and construction. (UI News Briefing 01.07, Feb. 14, 2001; Cameco Feb. 6, 2001)

Cameco becomes majority owner of Cigar Lake

Cameco agreed to purchase from Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) an additional 1.275 percent of the Cigar Lake project, increasing its controlling interest from 48.75 percent to 50.025 percent. (Cameco News Release April 27, 1999 external link)
KEPCO's remaining interest of 0.725% in the Cigar Lake project was acquired by COGEMA. (Saskatoon Star Phoenix, May 6, 1999)

Cigar Lake ore to be processed at Rabbit Lake rather than McClean Lake

"The owners of the Cigar Lake project have agreed, in principle, to process the majority of Cigar Lake ore in the Rabbit Lake mill, subject to regulatory approval." (Cameco news release Nov. 24, 1998 external link)
Cameco must prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) if they wish to proceed with the project. Draft project-specific guidelines for an EIS have been prepared identifying key issues to be addressed. Public comment on the draft project-specific guidelines is invited. Comments must be submitted by May 31, 1999. (Environmental Impact Assessment Notice external link)

AECB orders cease work at McClean Lake Tailings Management Facility

> See under McClean Lake

AECB approves construction of JEB Tailings Management Facility

> See under McClean Lake

Government approval for Cigar Lake uranium mine project

On April 3, 1998, the Government of Canada and the Government of Saskatchewan approved the Cigar Lake uranium project to proceed subject to certain conditions.
The Government of Canada agrees with most of the Review Panel's recommendations (see below), with one major exception:
"The Government does not agree with the Panel's condition that experiments be conducted to determine long-term acceptability of the tailings management facility before starting to deposit the tailings. Federal regulatory agencies consider that experimental studies of the aging tailings should take place at the same time that disposal takes place." [...]

> View Natural Resources of Canada press release: 98/22 external link · 98/22 (a) external link · 98/22 (b) external link
> View Govt. of Saskatchewan press releases: 98-231 external link · 98-232 external link
> View Cameco press release external link.

Review Panel recommends approval of Cigar Lake mining project, subject to conditions

On November 13, 1997, the Joint Federal-Provincial Panel on Uranium Mining Developments in Northern Saskatchewan issued its report to the government recommending the approval of the Cigar Lake uranium mining project in Northern Saskatchewan, Canada, subject to conditions.
The public review period for the Panel report ended February 5, 1998 (view SERM notice external link).

Excerpt from the Panel Report summary:

"Approval of the Cigar Lake Project is recommended with certain reservations. The reservations are associated primarily with the use of the proposed JEB Tailings Management Facility where the tailings produced from the milling of the Cigar Lake ore would be stored and with the selection of a site for disposal of mine waste rock.

It is recommended that approval for mining, as described in the Environmental Impact Statement, be granted subject to the ability of the proponent to locate an environmentally acceptable place to dispose of mine waste rock. Disposal in an existing lake should be avoided if other acceptable sites, such as a mined-out pit, are available.

CLMC proposes to custom mill its ore at the JEB mill, operated by Cogema Resources Inc., at McClean Lake. We recommend approval of the concept for tailings disposal represented by the JEB Tailings Management Facility (TMF), but with major site-specific reservations.
The proposed JEB TMF, to be constructed using natural surround technology, is an attractive option for tailings disposal because it provides an opportunity to realize several environmental benefits relative to other methods for tailings disposal. Among these benefits are an increase in worker protection through the use of subaqueous deposition; reduction of environmental disruption at several locations, as a result of combining deposition of tailings from many ore bodies at one site; the avoidance of engineered barriers which may fail in the long term; the minimization of weathering problems; and the protection of the contents of the pit from scarification by glaciers during the next ice age. Because of these potential advantages, the concept for tailings disposal represented by the JEB TMF proposal is recommended.
However, there are critical site-specific technical and managerial concerns that must be resolved before this particular tailings management facility can be recommended. Chief among the technical concerns is the need for convincing evidence that operation of the TMF would not result in the contamination of Fox Lake in the long term. This concern is exacerbated by a lack of confidence in the managerial and scientific competence of the operator, Cogema. In addition, the obvious dismissive attitude of this company for the regulators and their concerns suggests that it would not be appropriate for Cogema, as currently managed, to be given responsibility for constructing and managing this very dangerous radioactive waste disposal facility."

> View panel report: executive summary · full report (251k) external link
> View Panel press release external link
> View Cameco press release of Nov. 13, 1997 external link

> View Saskatchewan Environmental Society response to the Panel Report external link (Jan. 27, 1998)

The Cigar Lake uranium deposit has geological reserves of 150,000 tonnes of uranium at an extremely high ore grade of 7.8%. The deposit cannot be mined by conventional mining techniques, for its high radiation and its location in an unstable geologic formation about 450 meters below ground. Therefore, a new mining technology is to be used, which avoids human contact with the ore: First, the ore deposit is artificially frozen to improve its geotechnical stability, then the ore will be extracted by high pressure water jet-boring. The ore is crushed and ground underground and then hydraulically pumped to the surface for further treatment.

The ore will be trucked over a distance of 80 km and milled at the JEB mill at the McClean Lake mine site.

The tailings resulting from the chemical uranium extraction from the ore are to be dumped under a water cover in the open pit of the former JEB uranium mine nearby "to be totally isolated from the environment". For disposal, a variation of the scheme known as `pervious surround disposal' is to be used: the slurries will be neutralized with lime and dehydrated to a paste with a comparatively high solids contents of 50%. The surrounding rock then has a higher permeability than the paste, leading to minimized contaminant migration to the surrounding groundwater, according to the proponents.

Previous `pervious surround disposal' pilot sites in France and Canada included installation of a special layer of highly permeable material in the open pit before deposition of the tailings. This layer is now omitted, although there even is still no evidence of the long-term performance of the `pervious surround disposal' scheme used so far.

A bilingual (English/French) 24-page summary (The Cigar Lake Project - Environmental Impact Statement - Executive Summary, July 1995) of CLMC's EIS is available from the Panel Secretariat

View Comments on the Environmental Impact Statement for the Cigar Lake and Midwest Joint Ventures Proposal (46k), prepared by Radioactive Waste Management Associates external link for the Saskatchewan Uranium Coalition (RWMA publication external link No. 051).

On August 26, 1996, CLMC submitted a new plan for a changed tailings disposal concept, compared to the plan described in the EIS: the new plan comprises a combined pervious surround and subaqueous disposal scheme.

For updates on the review process, see CEAA Cigar Lake Panel Information external link


 

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