Cameco has suspended production at its McArthur River and Key Lake uranium sites in Canada for an indefinite period in response to a weak uranium market.

As a result of the closures in Saskatchewan, the company expects to cut around 550 jobs, including those currently on temporary layoff since January this year.

The company will also downsize the workforce at its corporate office by 150 positions including employees and vacancies in a bid to further reduce costs.

“It was a difficult decision to make, because of the impact it will have on our employees, their families, and other stakeholders.”

However, the company will retain 200 employees at the McArthur River and Key Lake sites to maintain the facilities.

For the second quarter ended 30 June this year, the company posted net losses of $76m and adjusted net losses of $28m due to lower gross profit in its uranium and fuel services segments.

Cameco president and CEO Tim Gitzel said: “Our results reflect the impact of a weak uranium market and the deliberate actions we have taken driven by the goal of increasing long-term shareholder value.

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“We have not seen the improvement needed in the uranium market to restart McArthur River and Key Lake. This means we will extend the suspension of production at McArthur River and Key Lake for an indeterminate duration.

“It was a difficult decision to make, because of the impact it will have on our employees, their families, and other stakeholders, but we must take this action to ensure the long-term sustainability of the company.”

Gitzel further stated that the company has no plans to restart production at the sites until it secures long-term contracts that provide an acceptable rate of return.

Cameco’s outlook for 2019 in the uranium segment includes expected production of nine million pounds.