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(Wallace Refiners) – Canadian uranium producer Cameco (TSX: CCO; NYSE: CCJ), one of the largest global providers of the uranium fuel, announced today that it plans to restart production in April at its Cigar Lake uranium mine located in northern Saskatchewan, Canada.
According to the company’s statement, production at Cigar Lake was temporarily suspended in December 2020 due to increasing risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, the availability of workers in critical areas was shrinking due to the pandemic, with more individuals screening out or residing in communities with pandemic-related travel restrictions.
“The safety of our workers, their families and communities is always our top priority,” said president and CEO Tim Gitzel. “In recent months we have implemented several enhanced safety protocols for Cigar Lake, including increased distancing between passengers on flights, mandatory medical-grade masks for all workers and increased sanitization and physical barriers in our eating areas.”
“These further safety measures, along with the provincial vaccine rollout program and increased confidence around our ability to manage our critical workforce, have given us greater certainty that Cigar Lake will be able to operate safely and sustainably,” added Gitzel.
The company pointed out that the timing of production restart and the production rate at Cigar Lake will be dependent on how quickly Cameco will be able to remobilize the workforce. Cameco noted that it will not be in a position to provide updates to the company’s outlook for 2021 until production has resumed and it understands the rate at which the company will be able to sustainably operate the mine.
“Having Cigar Lake running is part of our strategy and it was always our intention to resume production,” Gitzel said. “There are significant costs associated with having the mine in temporary care and maintenance, and we have a home in our contract portfolio for these low-cost pounds. We will also continue to purchase material, as needed, to meet our committed deliveries.”
The Cigar Lake operation is owned by Cameco (50.025%), Orano Canada Inc. (37.1%), Idemitsu Canada Resources Ltd. (7.875%) and TEPCO Resources Inc. (5.0%) and is operated by Cameco.
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