Cameco has temporarily suspended remediation work at the No.1 shaft at its Cigar Lake uranium project, after an increase in the rate of water inflow to the mine. The underground working areas of the mine were flooded in October 2006.
Tim Gitzel, Cameco’s chief operating officer, said: “Remediation and dewatering of the No. 1 shaft had been progressing smoothly up to this point.” He added: “An inflow at this rate is disappointing but our remediation plan, as approved by our joint venture partners, recognised the risk and included specific actions to be taken at various levels of inflow.”
The No. 1 Shaft had been pumped down to 430m below surface when the increase was reported early on the morning of 12 August. The inflow rate increased steadily during to the day, to approximately 600m3/h, which Cameco said “is beyond the range that can be managed while sustaining work in the shaft.”
Jerry Grandey, Cameco’s president & CEO, confirmed that the company intends to “prepare for and execute shaft 2 remediation.” Shaft No. 2 has been successfully plugged off, and Cameco has approval to begin rehabilitation.
The remediation budget for Cigar Lake was estimated at C$46 million ($43 million). However Kim Goheen, chief financial officer, said: “Much of that has been spent already.”
Production at Cigar Lake was originally planned to begin in 2008. In June, Cameco said that production is anticipated to start up in 2011 at the earliest.
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