Uranium producer Cameco and French nuclear technology business group Areva have started production at the Cigar Lake uranium mine and McClean Lake mill at the mine site in northern Saskatchewan, Canada.

Cameco president and CEO Tim Gitzel said: "This achievement took ten years, great perseverance and technical creativity, and I commend the many people who contributed."

Mining at Cigar Lake began in March 2014.

Majority-owned and operated by Areva Canada Resources, the McClean Lake mill’s initial packaged uranium concentrate was produced in October 2014.

According to Cameco, the McClean Lake mill processed and packaged 6.1 million pounds of uranium concentrate (U3O8) from ore mined at Cigar Lake during 2015 up to 19 September.

Currently, three JBS machines have been commissioned for underground use at the mine.

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"Upon completion of the expansion, the mill is expected to have capacity to produce 24 million pounds of uranium a year."

Cameco plans to continually manage ore supply to help ensure better operation of the mine and mill throughout the year.

The company operates the Cigar Lake mine, and holds a 50.025% interest in it.

Other partners include Areva Resources Canada (37.1%), Idemitsu Canada Resources (7.875%) and Tepco Resources (5.0%).

Areva operates the McClean Lake mill and holds a 70% interest, while Denison Mines owns 22.5% and OURD Canada holds 7.5%.

Upon completion of the expansion, the mill is expected to have capacity to produce 24 million pounds of uranium a year.

Full-scale construction of the Cigar Lake Mine began in 2005, with production originally planned for 2007.

Production has been delayed several times at the mine, as it experienced a catastrophic water inflow in October 2006, and due to second inflow that occurred in 2008 during the first attempt at dewatering the mine.

Image: Cameco plans to manage ore supply in a bid to ensure better operation of the mine. Photo: courtesy of Patou/