The McClean Lake uranium mill in northern Saskatchewan has obtained authorization from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to increase its annual production from 13m to 24m pounds U3O8 a year. The mill is owned by the McClean Lake Joint Venture (MLJV), which comprises Areva Resources Canada (70%), Denison Mines (22.5%) and OURD Canada (7.5%). It is operated by Areva. Ore from the nearby Cigar Lake mine, which began commercial operation in May 2015, is milled and packaged at the McClean Lake mill. Cigar Lake is owned by Cameco (50.25%), Areva Resources Canada (37.1%), Idemitsu Canada Resources (7.875%) and Tepco Resources (5.0%) and is operated by Cameco.
"This regulatory approval by the CNSC will lead to a progressive ramp-up of the mill in line with the Cigar Lake mine's ramp-up to 18m pounds annually," Areva said. "The tandem Cigar Lake mine and McClean Lake mill will therefore become the second-largest uranium production centre in the world." Denison president and CEO David Coles said, "With authorisation from the CNSC to increase the annual production at the mill, the MLJV is now in a position to deliver on its tolling commitment with the Cigar Lake joint venture and will have excess licensed processing capacity - which speaks to the strategic importance of the mill to the entire region."
The mill began production of uranium concentrates in 1999, processing ore from the JEB deposit at McClean Lake. The first ore was fed to the mill in June 1999 and commercial production started the following November. The mill operated until the end of June 2010, producing about 49.9m pounds U3O8 when it was placed on stand-by because of a lack of ore. An upgrade and expansion programme began in 2013 to improve, modernize and increase the capacity of various circuits enabling the mill to process Cigar Lake's high-grade ore without dilution. In 2014, the mill restarted operations with the delivery of ore shipments from Cigar Lake.