McArthur River/Key Lake
- McArthur River/Key Lake, located in northern Saskatchewan, Canada, are the world's largest high-grade uranium mine and mill.
- In service since 1999 and 1983 respectively, Cameco operates the ISO 14001 certified locations, which have collectively produced 535 million lbs using a variety of mining methods.
- After being held in safe care and maintenance since 2018, on February 9, 2022 Cameco announced plans for the operation’s gradual return to production.
2022 Q1 Update
Transition to planned production
McArthur River/Key Lake Production
Cameco's Share (million lbs)
ended March 31
|--||--||--||up to 3.51|
1 Over the course of 2022 and 2023, we will undertake all the activities necessary to ramp up to the 2024 planned production of 15 million pounds per year (100% basis) at McArthur River/Key Lake. As a result, in 2022, we could produce up to 5 million pounds (100% basis).
In February, we announced plans to transition McArthur River and Key Lake from care and maintenance to planned production of 15 million pounds per year (100% basis) by 2024. In the first quarter of 2022, there was no production as we began the recruiting and training process. There are now approximately 600 employees and long-term contractors employed at the mine and mill. When we resume operations later this year, we expect to have approximately 850 employees and long-term contractors. Our maintenance readiness checks are underway, and we are completing the critical automation, digitization and other projects needed to begin production.
Over the course of 2022 and 2023, we will undertake all the activities necessary to ramp up to the planned annual production of 15 million pounds (100% basis) by 2024. As a result, in 2022, we could produce up to 5 million pounds (100% basis). This plan will significantly improve our financial performance by allowing us to source more of our committed sales from lower-cost produced pounds and we will no longer be required to expense care and maintenance costs directly to cost of sales. However, until we achieve a reasonable production rate, we expect to incur between $15 million to $17 million per month in operational readiness costs, which will be expensed directly to cost of sales. There is a potential for the COVID-19 pandemic and related supply chain challenges to impact the availability of materials, reagents and labour, which could not only impact 2022 production but could also introduce risk to production in 2023.
In connection with the changes to our planned production profile in northern Saskatchewan, we have amended the terms of the product loan to Orano. The new agreement allows for flexibility in repayment and extends the repayment date to December 31, 2028 from December 31, 2023. Additionally, the agreement allows Orano to borrow 1.15 million kgU of conversion supply with repayment expected by December 31, 2035 if drawn, and an additional 1.2 million pounds U3O8 with repayment expected by December 31, 2027 if drawn. As of March 31, 4.6 million pounds U3O8 and 0.3 million kgU were drawn on the loans.
We continue to advance and implement innovation opportunities/projects at the McArthur River mine and Key Lake mill to focus on improvement of the mine and mill through application of automation, digitization and optimization.
The collective agreement with the United Steelworkers Local 8914 expires in December 2022. There is a risk to the production plan if we are unable to reach an agreement and there is a labour dispute.
Environment & Safety
Worker safety, environmental monitoring and proper decommissioning, after mining is completed, are of the utmost importance to Cameco.
Reserves & Resources
Our mineral reserves and resources are the foundation of our company and fundamental to our success.
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.