The first uranium ore from the Cigar Lake mine, operated by Cameco in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan has been delivered to AREVA’s McClean Lake mill located 70 km away.

"Cigar Lake is among the most technically challenging mining projects in the world," said Tim Gitzel, president and CEO of Cameco, the operator and 50.025% owner of Cigar Lake. "The start of ore production is a tremendous achievement and I want to thank the many hundreds of people who helped to bring this exceptional orebody into production."

AREVA said the ore, which set out on its journey on 13 March, is expected to be processed at the McClean Lake mill by the end of June 2014.

"With a production capacity of 10,900 tonnes of uranium per year, the McClean Lake mill is expected to produce 770 to 1100 tonnes of uranium concentrate from Cigar Lake ore in 2014," AREVA said. The mill’s annual production rate is expected to ramp up to 8100 tonnes (18 million pounds) as early as 2018.

The capital cost of the Cigar Lake project were estimated at $2.6 billion in December 2013. Construction started on the mine, which relies on a high-pressure water jet boring method, in 2006.

In addition to Cameco, owners of the Cigar lake project are AREVA Resources Canada Inc (37.1%), Idemitsu Canada Resources Ltd. (7.9%) and TEPCO Resources Inc. (5.0%).