Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

Cameco's Cigar Lake mine manager Rick Forbes walks down one of the mine shafts at the Cigar Lake mine site September 3, 2010.

© David Stobbe / Reuters/Reuters

After years of floods, fires, engineering challenges and spiralling costs, the Cigar Lake uranium mine in northern Saskatchewan is finally getting its official launch.

The mine and the McClean Lake processing mill have been operating since last year but the official launch was held off until Wednesday – in part because of wildfires that delayed the original ceremony scheduled for July.

"This achievement took 10 years, great perseverance and technical creativity, and I commend the many people who contributed," said Tim Gitzel, president and CEO of Cameco – which is half owner of the mine.

Story continues below advertisement

The mine is expected to run for 15 years. It currently employs 700 people, with more than half from northern Saskatchewan.

A senior executive of France's Areva, which owns 37.1 per cent of the mine and 70 per cent of the mill, said the safe startup and continued production from the operation were cause for celebration.

Because the uranium mine sits in unstable, water-logged sandstone, Cameco has resorted to completely freezing the thousands of tonnes of uranium-rich rock through a vast network of pipes filled with brine chilled to minus-40 degrees.

Cameco has also developed and customized machines that shoot water at supersonic speeds to cut away the rock. Chunks of rock and water are then piped to tanks – where the water is recycled back into the system and the rock is crushed into a sand that's then piped to the surface and trucked to the McClean Lake mill.

Construction began in 2005, but the mine was flooded twice in 2006 and again in 2008 as water seeped or gushed in from unfrozen parts of the ground.

More delays came in 2013 when key holding tanks were found to be leaking water and required entirely new steel liners, and then in 2014 the company again had to halt operations as it found the ground wasn't freezing fast enough.

Production did get going last year, and the company declared commercial production earlier this year. The company was all set for a grand opening in July but that was postponed because of wildfires across northern parts of the province.

Report an error
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies