for-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up
Company News

No set deadline for Cigar Lake repairs -Cameco COO

TORONTO, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Cameco Corp CCO.TO doesn't have a "fixed" deadline for the overhaul of its flooded Cigar Lake mine, the uranium miner's chief operating officer said in documents made available on Tuesday.

At a hearing last week before the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), which is considering extending Cameco’s construction license to rehabilitate the mine, COO Tim Gitzel said Cameco, the world’s largest uranium producer, would not take shortcuts in the overhaul process.

The mine, which should eventually produce 18 million pounds of uranium annually -- more than 10 percent of world output -- was to have started production in 2007. However, the company said last week it now expects output by 2011 at the earliest.

Gitzel also said the company’s forecast of production at the mine by 2011 was subject to several conditions.

“So we’re not fixed to any time,” he said, according to the transcript of the Nov. 1 hearing.

Gitzel was responding to a question about whether it was prudent to set production timelines, given the safety concerns about the mine, which flooded in 2006.

“Shareholders... are looking for guidance and we say this date at the earliest, but it’s subject to the many caveats and conditions we’ve put in the quarterly report,” he said.

Those conditions include timely completion of remediation activities and a second shaft, plus timely regulatory approvals. The timeline also depends on the condition of the underground operations once the water is pumped out.

The delay, which comes as several countries are planning to build new nuclear reactors, has been cited as contributing to the rise of uranium prices to all-time highs this year.

Cameco is in the process of pouring a concrete plug and sealing off the inflow area, and is hoping to get approval to begin pumping water out of the mine next year.

CNSC staff, which operate independently of the CNSC tribunal hearing the case, have recommended approving a two-year extension that would include extensive oversight of the remediation process.

The mine is located about 660 km (410 miles) north of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and is 50 percent owned by Cameco and 37 percent owned by uranium producer Areva Resources, a unit of ArevaCEPFi.PA.

The CNSC is expected to deliver its decision within a month.

$1=$0.92 Canadian Reporting by Cameron French; Editing by Bernadette Baum

for-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up