Cigar Lake

  • Cigar Lake is the world's highest grade uranium mine and is located in northern Saskatchewan, Canada. 
  • As the operator, Cameco developed an innovative jet-boring technique specifically for this challenging deposit.
  • Commercial production began in May, 2015 with a total of 11.3 million pounds (100% basis) produced by the end of the year.
  • Rampup to licensed capacity of 18 million pounds per year is expected in 2017.
  • Cigar Lake's ore is processed 70 km northeast, at the McClean Lake mill, operated by AREVA.
Operation(As of December 31, 2016)
50% Cameco ownership
597 people employed, 51% are from northern Saskatchewan
Production(As of December 31, 2016)
Average grade of 15.9% U3O8
Licenced to 2021
8.7m lbs U3O8 Annual Production Trend (Cameco's Share)

2016 Update


Total packaged production from Cigar Lake was 17.3 million pounds U3O8; our share was 8.7 million pounds. The operation exceeded our forecast of 16 million pounds (100% basis) as a result of higher productivity and our intention to adjust annual production as necessary, based on our operating experience during rampup.

During the year, we:

  • discontinued use of the underground freeze infrastructure and backfilled two redundant crosscuts related to underground freezing
  • completed a freeze pad extension to enable surface freeze drilling to resume in 2017
  • advanced the freeze plant expansion project through the prefeasibility stage

Cigar Lake Production

Cameco's Share (millions lbs)

3 months ended
December 31
Year ended
December 31
2016 2015 2016 2015 2016 Plan 2017 Plan
2.5 2.3 8.7 5.7 8.0 9.0

Underground development

In 2016, we began advancing 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

Upgrades to the tails neutralization circuit were substantially completed in 2016, and the mill has sufficient capacity to produce 18 million pounds annually.


In 2016, we completed 29,000 metres of diamond drilling as part of the first year of a three-year, 65,000-metre 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 prefeasibility study for Phase 2.

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.

See more

Reserves & Resources

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

See more

Caution about forward-looking information relating to Cigar Lake

This discussion of our expectations for Cigar Lake, including our plans for 16 million packaged pounds (100%) in 2016, and full production of 18 million pounds (100%) in 2017, is forward-looking information that is based upon the assumptions and subject to the material risks discussed under the heading ​Caution about forward-looking information beginning on page 2 of our Q4 2015 MD&A.