The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) on 28 June said it will renew the uranium mine licence held by Cameco Corporation (Cameco) for its Cigar Lake Operation in northern Saskatchewan. This followed a public hearing held virtually in late April. The renewed licence allows Cameco to continue operating the Cigar Lake mine. The renewed licence is valid until June 30, 2031.
CNSC considered oral and written submissions from Cameco, CNSC staff, and 31 others and made participant funding available through its Participant Funding Programme (PFP). It invited interventions from Indigenous groups, members of the public and stakeholders. Four parties received participant funding to assist with their interventions.
Cameco applied for a licence renewal in November 2019 and in October 2020, CNSC made funding available through the PFP to support Indigenous peoples, members of the public and stakeholders in presenting their views. After reviewing all submissions, the Commission concluded that Cameco is qualified to carry out the mining activities that the renewed licence will authorise, and that Cameco will make adequate provision for the protection of the environment, and the health and safety of persons.
The Athabasca Basin in northern Saskatchewan is home to high-grade uranium reserves with ore grades up to 100 times the world average.
Cigar Lake, located about 900 km north of Saskatoon, is the world's highest-grade uranium mine. Licensed operations at Cigar Lake include an underground mine and ore-processing facility, and a surface ore load-out facility. Since commissioning in 2014, the site has produced a total of 93 million pounds of ore. Commercial operation began in May 2015. Cigar Lake’s ore is processed 70 km northeast at the McClean Lake mill, which is operated by Orano.