Cigar Lake is the world's second largest high-grade uranium deposit, with grades that are 100 times the world average. Cigar Lake is considered one of the world's most technically challenging uranium deposits to mine. Nine years after construction began, the mine began production on March 13, 2014. Cameco is 50% owner and the mine operator.

Key facts

  • Cameco's share of the deposit's proven and probable reserves is 108.4 million pounds U3O8 at an average grade of 18.3%.
  • The Cigar Lake project employed up to 1000 people during the peak construction period.
  • Approximately 600 people will be employed when the project reaches full production; most are residents of Saskatchewan's north.
  • The Cigar Lake orebody has been frozen prior to mining to improve ground conditions, prevent water inflow and improve radiation protection.
  • The high grade ore will be removed by a non-entry method jet boring system that will be deployed within access tunnels being developed about 25 metres beneath the orebody.
  • Jet boring involves using water under high pressure to carve out cavities in the orebody and then collecting the resulting ore slurry through pipes. The Cigar Lake mining process also involves backfilling the cavities in the orebody with concrete once the ore is removed.
  • Ore collected by the jet boring system will be taken to underground grinding and thickening circuits and then pumped to surface as slurry. At the surface, the ore will be loaded in special containers for truck transport to the mill.
  • Cigar Lake ore will be processed through a toll milling arrangement at Areva's McClean Lake operation, located 70 km to the northeast of Cigar Lake.


Environmental monitoring ensures that emissions from operations are well below allowable limits. Monitoring results and environmental incidents are reported to federal and provincial regulatory agencies.

Regulatory Oversight

The Cigar Lake project is regulated by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) in accordance with the federal Nuclear Safety and Control Act and regulations. Cigar Lake is also subject to provincial laws and regulations for the protection of workers and the environment. CNSC staff conducts regular site inspections and audits to verify that people and the environment are protected. Uranium mining and milling operations are licensed by CNSC.

The CNSC has granted a uranium mining licence authorizing construction and operation of the Cigar Lake project. The licence term is from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2021.


Cigar Lake Operations
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