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 105 million pounds (100% basis).  Commercial operation began 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 Orano.
Operation(As of December 31, 2023)
Production(As of December 31, 2023)

2023 Q4 Update


Cigar Lake Production

Cameco's Share (million lbs)

Three months ended
December 31
Year ended
December 31
2023 2022 2023 2022 2023 Plan1

2024 Plan

2.6 2.9 8.2 9.6 8.9


1. During the third quarter, we updated our Cigar Lake production forecast to up to 16.3 million pounds (100% basis) in 2023 (previously 18 million pounds).

Total packaged production from Cigar Lake in 2023 was 15.1 million pounds U3O8 (8.2 million pounds our share) compared to 18.0 million pounds U3O8 (9.8 million pounds our share) in 2022.

Productivity was impacted as we completed development and commissioning activities in the first quarter and achieved first production from a new mining area. We had expected to recover from these delays in the second half of the year. However, in the third quarter, we determined maintenance work was required on one of the underground circuits, which had not been planned. The additional time required to complete this work did not allow for the delayed production volumes to be recovered prior to year-end.

During the year, we:

  • executed planned 21-day annual maintenance activities in September
  • executed production activities from four production tunnels in the eastern part of the orebody and one, for the first time, from the western part of the orebody
  • in alignment with our long-term production planning, brought two new panels online
  • continued underground header construction activities and expanded our ground freezing program to ensure continued frozen ore inventory
  • completed our freeze hole drilling program in the second quarter

Underground development

Underground mine development continued in 2023. We completed our second production crosscut in the western portion of the orebody in preparation for ore mining starting in the second quarter of 2024.

Planning for the future


In 2024, we expect to produce 18 million pounds (100% basis) at Cigar Lake; our share is approximately 9.8 million pounds.

In 2024, we plan to:

  • continue production activities focused on bringing one new production panel online
  • complete construction and commissioning of freeze distribution infrastructure expansion in support of future production
  • continue underground mine development on two new production tunnels as well as expand ventilation and access drifts in alignment with the long-term mine plan
  • commission the surface backfill batch plant to support ongoing operations
  • execute an underground geotechnical drilling program

Cigar Lake Extension

Completion of a prefeasibility study of the indicated resources contained in the Cigar Lake extension orebody, (referred to as Phase 2 in the technical report filed in 2016) demonstrated the economic feasibility of extracting those resources, allowing us to convert 73.4 million pounds (100% basis) (40 million pounds our share), to probable reserves and extending the estimated mine life to 2036. Based on our analyses, we expect our share of the up-front capital cost to complete the mine development and other capacity replacement projects necessary to access these reserves to be between $250 million and $300 million. We expect the average life of mine unit cash operating costs for Cigar Lake production to increase to between $19 per pound and $20 per pound (previously $18.13 per pound) and our share of annual production to be between 9.5 million pounds and 10.0 million pounds.

A new NI 43-101 technical report for Cigar Lake is in the process of being finalized and is expected to be filed under Cameco’s profile on SEDAR+ within 45 days of this release. More detailed descriptions of the scientific and technical information on which the mineral reserves and mine plan are based will be included in the relevant sections of the technical report. Once filed, the new technical report will supersede and replace the current technical report titled “Cigar Lake Operation, Northern Saskatchewan, Canada” dated March 29, 2016, with an effective date of December 31, 2015. A copy is available on SEDAR+ (, on EDGAR (, and on Cameco’s website (

Managing our risks

The Cigar Lake deposit presents unique challenges that are not typical of traditional hard or soft rock mines. These challenges are the result of mining in or near high-pressure ground water in challenging ground conditions with significant radiation concerns due to the high-grade uranium and elements of concern in the orebody with respect to water quality. We take significant steps and precautions to reduce the risks. Mine designs and the mining method are selected based on their ability to mitigate hydrological, radiological, and geotechnical risks. Operational experience gained since the start of production has resulted in a significant reduction in risk. However, there is no guarantee that our efforts to mitigate risk will be successful.

We discuss managing our risks in our Q4 2023 MD&A.

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.