(Adds details on Cigar Lake's output target, mine and mill
By Rod Nickel
July 16 Canadian uranium miner Cameco Corp
said on Wednesday 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.
As a result, Cameco said it will lower its 2014 uranium
target for milling Cigar Lake ore, which is currently 2 million
to 3 million pounds.
Cameco, the world's third-biggest uranium producer, first
expected to open Cigar Lake in 2007, but two floods pushed the
launch of the mine well behind schedule. The mine finally began
production in March 2014.
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.
Cameco said it would revise this year's output target when
it announces second-quarter results on July 31, but it
maintained its longer-term goal of mining 18 million pounds
annually from Cigar Lake by 2018.
Some initial output from Cigar Lake is currently in storage
until the nearby McClean Lake, Saskatchewan, mill, which is
being modified, can begin processing it.
Cameco owns just over half of the Cigar Lake mine, with
smaller stakes held by France's Areva SA and by
Japan's Tokyo Electric Power Co Inc and Idemitsu Kosan
Co Ltd. Areva is the majority owner of the McClean Lake
Uranium prices have been weak since an earthquake and
tsunami struck Japan in March 2011, crippling the
Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant, and leading the
government to shut down nearly all of Japan's reactors. One
nuclear plant in southern Japan cleared an initial safety hurdle
on Wednesday, which could make it the first nuclear facility to
restart under tough new safety regulations.
Cameco shares rose 1.4 percent in Toronto and 1.5 percent in
New York on Wednesday morning.
(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by
Jeffrey Benkoe; and Peter Galloway)