JV partners Denison Mines and Orano Canada have announced plans to restart uranium mining operations at the McClean Lake mine in Canada.

The operations, set to commence in 2025, will utilise the JV’s patented SABRE mining method.

Orano Canada president and CEO Jim Corman said: “Our current ability to capitalise on the strengthening uranium and nuclear markets is the result of a long-term investment in R&D within Orano and the MLJV [McClean Lake JV] to secure continued activities at the McClean Lake operation well into the future.

“The groundwork we do over the course of 2024 is expected to put the MLJV in position to see SABRE in action and to commence production in 2025.

“It is anticipated that the McClean Lake mill will have sufficient capacity to process this ore, while continuing with committed planned production from Cigar Lake. It is an exciting time for employees, partners and the industry as we return to a focus on growth.”

Orano Canada, holding a 77.5% interest and acting as the operator of the MLJV, will work alongside Denison Mines, which owns the remaining 22.5% interest.

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By GlobalData

The year 2024 is slated for preparations to ready the existing SABRE mining site and equipment for continuous commercial operations.

Work scope includes the installation of eight pilot holes for the first mining cavities planned for excavation.

The approved budget for the 2024 activities is C$7m ($5.1m) on a 100% basis.

Mining is scheduled to begin at the McClean North deposit, with an initial target of producing around 800,000 pounds (lb) of U3O8 (triuranium octoxide) in 2025.

Following this, there is a potential for additional production of approximately 3,000,000lb of U3O8 from a combination of the McClean North and Caribou deposits over the years 2026 to 2030.

Denison Mines president and CEO David Cates said: “The restart of uranium mining at McClean Lake is a notable milestone for the MLJV and Denison. Mining at McClean Lake was suspended in 2008 in response to declining uranium prices.

“During the interim 15 years, the MLJV invested in the development of a proprietary mining method designed to selectively extract high-grade Athabasca Basin uranium ores from the surface.

“The successful mining test of the SABRE method in 2021 provided the MLJV with important information about the productivity and cost of SABRE operations.”