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 commenced, the mine began production on March 13, 2014. Commercial production was declared May 1, 2015. Cameco is 50% owner and the mine operator.

Key facts

  • Cameco's share of the deposit's proven and probable reserves is 117.5 million pounds U3O8 at an average grade of 17.84%.
  • 2014 production 170,000 pounds (our share)
  • licensed to June, 2021 with annual capacity of 18.0 million pounds (our share is 9.0 million pounds)
  • about 600 people will be employed when the project reaches full production; most are residents of Saskatchewan's north.
  • the orebody was frozen prior to mining to improve ground conditions, prevent water inflow and improve radiation protection.
  • the high grade ore is removed by a non-entry method jet boring system deployed in access tunnels that are 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.
  • the ore slurry is run through underground grinding and thickening circuits and then pumped to surface. At the surface, the ore is loaded in special containers for truck transport to Areva's McClean Lake mill 70 kms northeast


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. CNSC staff members conduct regular site inspections and audits to verify that people and the environment are protected. The CNSC also provide annual reports on the operations of licensed facilities at public proceedings of the commission. Some of those proceedings will be held in northern Saskatchewan with public participation and a special focus on the environmental performance of these facilities, with emphasis on releases to air, water and soil.


Cigar Lake Operations
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