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Men work about 600m (1,969 feet) below the surface at the Cameco McArthur River uranium mine site in northern Saskatchewan.

© STRINGER Canada / Reuters/REUTERS

Cameco Corp. said its net profit rose by nearly a third on higher prices and production and a big jump in revenue.

The Saskatoon miner reported profit of $265-million in the fourth quarter, or 67 cents per share.

That's up 29 per cent from the $206-million, or 52 cents per share, the company recorded in the same quarter a year ago.

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Revenue jumped 45 per cent to $977-million from $673-million, despite what Cameco CEO Tim Gitzel says was a challenging year for the nuclear industry.

The company said its uranium business generated higher prices and an increase in sales volumes.

That was offset by lower earnings from Cameco's nuclear power business in Ontario due to higher costs, lower prices and lower sales volumes.

Mr. Gitzel said 2011 was a "challenging year for the nuclear industry."

"However, it was business as usual for us, and in some ways, even better than usual. We achieved a number of financial records including record revenue and gross profit from our nuclear business and record realized prices for uranium," he said.

"Looking forward, we remain confident in the long-term fundamentals of the nuclear industry. With our extraordinary assets, contract portfolio, employee expertise, industry knowledge and financial strength, we are well positioned to meet the growing demand for uranium and add value for our shareholders."

Cameco is one of the world's largest uranium producers. It has mines, mills and conversion plants in Canada, the United States and abroad and produces fuel that runs nuclear power plants around the world.

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The company is also a partner in the Bruce Power generating station in southwestern Ontario, the biggest nuclear power plant in North America.

Last March, a tsunami and earthquake destroyed the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, setting off a disaster that has called into question the future of the global nuclear power industry.

While the crisis reduced demand for new nuclear power plants in the near-term, Cameco has said it is sticking to its target to double uranium production to 40 million pounds by 2018.

Last summer it launched a hostile takeover bid for junior uranium developer Hathor Exploration Ltd. but the bid was spurned and Hathor eventually struck a friendly deal with global miner Rio Tinto.

The asset both Cameco and Rio Tinto wanted was Hathor's Roughrider uranium deposit in northern Saskatchewan.

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