* Fire came as close as 6 km from uranium mill
* Mill operations unaffected, fire seen in retreat
TORONTO, June 17 (Reuters) - Cameco Corp (CCO.TO) is keeping a close eye on a forest fire burning not far from its massive Key Lake uranium mill in the western Canadian province of Saskatchewan, but a company spokesman said on Wednesday the operation is running normally and the fire appears to be in retreat.
The fire came as close as 6 kilometers (4 miles) from the mill on Tuesday, but has relented somewhat since then, said Gord Struthers, a spokesman for top global uranium producer Cameco.
“The wind has changed direction and they have some precipitation up there. It’s now blown back on itself, so it’s not as intense as it was,” he said.
Key Lake, located in Saskatchewan’s remote Athabasca region, about 550 km north of Saskatoon, is the world’s biggest uranium mill with annual production capacity of 18 million pounds of yellowcake.
The mill is 17 percent-owned by French uranium giant Areva CEPFi.PA and processes mined uranium from the nearby McArthur River mine.
Struthers said forest fires are not uncommon in the heavily treed area, and the operation has a well-developed plan in place for such an occurrence.
“It’s business as usual now,” he said, adding that road and air access has not been interrupted.
“We’re working with the Ministry of Environment people and are basically in a monitoring phase.”
The company’s shares fell 50 Canadian cents to C$28.32 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Wednesday.
$1=$1.13 Canadian Reporting by Cameron French; editing by Peter Galloway