Our exploration program is focused on replacing mineral reserves as they are depleted by our production, which is key to sustaining Cameco's business, meeting commitments, and ensuring long-term growth. Our global exploration activity is adjusted annually in line with market signals and at a pace aligned and Cameco’s mining plans and sourcing needs.
Our land position totals 740,000 hectares (1.8 million acres) that cover exploration and development prospects in Canada, Australia, Kazakhstan and the US that are among the best in the world. In northern Saskatchewan alone, we have direct interests in 650,000 hectares (1.6 million acres) that cover many of the most prospective areas of the prolific Athabasca Basin.
Our well-established infrastructure includes fully licensed and fully permitted uranium mills and mines in the eastern Athabasca basin, along with a supporting network of roads, airstrips and electricity supply. That infrastructure provides us with a significant advantages in supporting:
- potential development of our advanced exploration projects
- ongoing work to both delineate existing prospects and deposits
- identification of future undiscovered uranium potential of the region
- our long-term, mutually-beneficial relationships with northern Saskatchewan Indigenous communities
The combination of our large land position and proven expertise in discovering and developing world class uranium mines provides the foundation for future mill-supported exploration projects, ranging from early to advanced stages of greenfield exploration and for brownfield opportunities to extend the lives of our existing operations.
The uranium endowment of the Athabasca Basin, where we are involved in 39 projects (including partner-operated joint ventures), is well known and combined with the basin’s unique geological history, it creates a remarkable mining jurisdiction hosting the highest uranium grades and some of the largest uranium deposits in the world. On our projects, we have identified numerous uranium occurrences, prospects, and undeveloped deposits of variable grades and sizes that have progressed through multiple stages of evaluation.
Brownfield and advanced exploration
Brownfield and advanced exploration activities include exploration near our existing operations and expenses for maintaining advanced projects and delineation drilling where uranium mineralization is being defined. In 2023, we spent about $4.5 million in Saskatchewan, $1 million in Australia and $1 million in the US on brownfields and advanced exploration projects. The spending in Saskatchewan was primarily focused on advancing the extension of the mine life at Cigar Lake and advanced exploration on the Dawn Lake project.
The Dawn Lake project is located approximately 45 km northwest of the Rabbit Lake operation, on the La Rocque Lake corridor which hosts several historic discoveries and deposits. In 2023, exploration drilling at Dawn Lake expanded the footprint of known uranium mineralization with mineralized intercepts in excess of 60% U3O8 over several metres. Although the deposit remains at a very early stage of exploration, the high-grade results and geological conditions observed to date are comparable to those of other mines and known deposits in the Athabasca Basin, generating interest and a focused effort to better understand its potential.
Regional exploration is defined as projects that are considered greenfield. In 2023, we spent about $11 million on regional exploration programs that are comprised of target generation geophysical surveys and diamond drilling primarily in northern Saskatchewan.
Planning for the future
We plan to continue to focus on our core projects in Saskatchewan under our long-term exploration framework. Our leadership position and industry expertise in both exploration and corporate social responsibility makes us a partner of choice and for properties and projects that meet our investment criteria, we may partner with other companies through strategic alliances, equity holdings and traditional joint venture arrangements to optimize our exploration activity and spending.
Brownfields and Advanced Exploration
In 2024, we plan to spend about $7 million on brownfields and advanced Exploration, primarily to expand the footprint of the mineralization identified on in the La Rocque Lake corridor of the Dawn Lake project.
We plan to spend about $13 million on diamond drilling and target generation geophysical surveys on our core regional projects in Saskatchewan in 2024.
Caution about Forward-Looking Information
Please click here for additional information about the assumptions applied in making the forward-looking statements on this page and the factors that could cause results to differ materially.