Cameco has announced a breakthrough at the Cigar Lake uranium project in northern Saskatchewan, Canada: it has connected a second shaft to the mine workings, 480 metres below surface. The company, which 50%-owns and operates the mine, also confirmed that the project remains on track to begin ore mining by mid-2013.

Miners removed the final section of rock connecting shaft 2 with the mine workings 480 metres below surface 3 January 2012 (see video shaft-2-breakthrough-at-cigar-lake) The second shaft will provide for increased ventilation of the underground workings as well as additional means of entering and exiting the mine.

“The breakthrough is a key milestone on our path to safe, clean and reliable production from this exceptional orebody,” said president and CEO Tim Gitzel. “We expect to resume full mine development and construction activities in 2012 and remain on track to start ore mining by mid-2013.”

Over the last year Cameco has also: restored underground mine systems, infrastructure and development areas; secured regulatory approval and started construction of systems to increase discharge capacity for treated water; initiated orebody freezing from surface and developed and secured regulatory approval for a revised mine plan.

The Cigar Lake project is 50% owned and operated by Cameco. The other Cigar Lake joint venture partners are Areva Resources Canada Inc. (37%), Idemitsu Resources Canada Inc. (8%) and Tepco Resources Inc. (5%).