We recognize and embrace our responsibility to manage our activities with care for the protection of environmental resources. At Cameco, our stewardship is guided by a rigorous policy and programs designed to minimize our impacts on air, land, and water, and to safeguard the biodiversity of surrounding ecosystems.
At Cameco, water stewardship is a significant operational focus, and we believe that responsible management of water is critical to our business success. We also recognize the importance of using and discharging water responsibly to preserve it for current and future generations. Across our operations, we interact with water in several ways and acknowledge that we share this valuable resource with Indigenous Peoples and local communities.
We work continuously with regulators, governments, researchers, and communities to understand possible impacts, develop best practices, and make changes that mitigate potential impacts on the environment. At our sites and facilities, we have robust water management and monitoring programs that apply to all our withdrawals and discharges of water, and we tailor our water management practices to local uses and conditions.
Milling of uranium ore produces tailings which are primarily composed of residues (the residual rock left after the uranium is recovered from the ore), mineral precipitates, sewage, and minor amounts of other processing chemicals. Tailings are an inevitable byproduct of milling and the annual tonnage of tailings produced is dependent on the ore grade and the production rate. The high uranium grade of our mines in northern Saskatchewan means that the tailings tonnage is relatively low. Tailings are safely stored on-site within engineered tailings management facilities.
At Cameco, we are committed to continuous improvement and seek to apply lessons learned from industry incidents to further strengthen our tailings management approach. We are also committed to transparency and disclose detailed information about our tailings facilities to our investors and communities.
We have implemented best practices identified in the Towards Sustainable Mining Tailings Management Protocol (see image left) developed by the Mining Association of Canada (MAC) and every three years, we undergo third-party verification.
Cameco’s commitment to environmental protection is long-standing. We have tracked and reported greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for more than two decades while we continue to pursue strategies to be more efficient in our use of resources.
We have been focused on improving the visibility of energy consumption within our organization and implementing improvements to reduce energy consumption at all our operations. We have made measurable reductions in energy used for mine ventilation, building heating and ventilation, and compressed air systems, and have several ongoing reduction initiatives at our mining, milling and fuel services facilities.
Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy
The accomplishment of the Paris Agreement’s near-term 2030 and longer-term 2050 goals will require substantial additional reductions in GHG emissions in Canada and globally. At Cameco, we believe that maintaining and growing emissions-free nuclear power is, and must remain, a central part of many countries’, including Canada’s, credible plans to achieving their commitments under the Paris Agreement. There are multiple initiatives underway globally, and in Canada, that recognize the need to advance nuclear power as part of the transition to a low-carbon economy.