Cigar Lake

  • Cigar Lake is the world's highest grade uranium mine and is located in northern Saskatchewan, Canada.
  • Since commissioning in 2014, the site has produced a total of 46.9 million pounds (100% basis).  It began commercial operation in May 2015.
  • As the operator, Cameco developed an innovative jet-boring technique specifically for this challenging deposit.
  • Cigar Lake's ore is processed 70 km northeast, at the McClean Lake mill, operated by AREVA Resources.
Operation(As of December 31, 2017)
50% Cameco ownership
532 Cigar Lake Employees
Production(As of December 31, 2017)
Cigar Lake Average % Grade of U3O8 of 14.91
Licenced to 2021
Cigar Lake 2017 Production Trend

2017 Update


Total packaged production from Cigar Lake was 18.0 million pounds U3O8; our share was 9.0 million pounds, achieving our forecast.

During the year, we:

  • implemented an extended summer shutdown, reduced the workforce by about 10%, made changes to the shift rotation schedule, and made changes to the commuter flight services at the site. All of these measures were made to further reduce costs and improve efficiency at the operation
  • completed a freeze pad extension to enable surface freeze drilling to resume in 2017
  • advanced the freeze plant expansion project through the pre-feasibility stage and commenced construction

Cigar Lake Production

Cameco's Share (million lbs)

3 months ended
December 31
Year ended
December 31
2017 2016 2017 2016 2017 Plan 2018 Plan
2.5 2.5 9.0 8.7 9.0 9.0

Underground development

In 2017, we substantially completed two new production crosscuts tunnels to ensure we maintain continuous access to frozen ore inventory once mining in the current crosscuts is complete.

McClean Lake mill update

On June 29, the CNSC approved a 10-year renewal of the operating licence for Orano’s McClean Lake mill. The licence is valid until June 30, 2027.


In 2017, we completed 16,571 metres of diamond drilling as part of the second year of a three-year surface drilling program to confirm and upgrade mineral resources contained in the western portion of the deposit (Phase 2). The objective of the program is to complete a detailed geological and geotechnical interpretation, a mineral resource estimate, and a pre-feasibility study for Phase 2. Sufficient information has been obtained from the first two years of drilling to support completion of the pre-feasibility study.

Planning for the future


In 2018, we expect to produce 18.0 million packaged pounds at Cigar Lake; our share is 9.0 million pounds.

In alignment with our continued efforts to reduce costs, our 2018 production plan for the Cigar Lake mine includes an extended shutdown during the third quarter, which is expected to result in reduced flight and camp costs. The shutdown will consist of a four-week vacation period, preceded by a one-to two-week maintenance period with mine start-up planned before the end of the third quarter.

In 2018, we expect to:

  • resume surface freeze drilling and advance planning and construction for the freeze plant infrastructure expansion in support of future production
  • transition to two new production crosscuts tunnels as per the mine plan, and backfill two crosscut tunnels where production is complete

See full Quarterly Report

Environment & Safety

Worker safety, protection of the environment and proper decommissioning after mining is completed, are of the utmost importance to Cameco.

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Reserves & Resources

Our mineral reserves and resources are the foundation of our company and fundamental to our success.

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Caution about forward-looking information

This page may contain forward-looking information that is based upon the assumptions and subject to the material risks discussed on page 2 of Cameco's most recent Quarterly MD&A.