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Construction begins on the Cigar Lake mine

Press release

December 22, 2004

Cameco, AREVA, Idemitsu and Tepco announce their decision to proceed with industrial development of the Canadian Cigar Lake mine, of which they are the shareholders*.  The decision follows the receipt from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission of a construction license, which was awarded on the basis of a complete environmental impact study. 

Cigar Lake, discovered in 1981 by geologists from COGEMA, is located in the Canadian north 660 kilometers from Saskatoon.  The mine displays record characteristics: it includes the second-largest deposit of uranium in the world by volume and by quality.  Every tonne of rock extracted should provide 150 kilograms of uranium on average (which is 15 to 30 times the yield of most mines in operation). 

Construction operations for the installations will begin in January 2005 and will employ 350 workers for approximately 27 months.  First production is expected by 2007.  An annual rate of 18 million pounds (that is, 6900 tonnes of uranium of which 2600 tonnes are for AREVA) of U308 should be achieved after two to three years of operation.  The total resources of the deposit are estimated at approximately 49,000 tonnes of U3O8, and have already been accounted for in the available resources announced by the group (2003 annual report). 

To begin with, the uranium concentrate will be produced entirely in the McClean Lake mineral treatment plant (70% AREVA) located 70 kilometers from the deposit.  The Rabbit Lake plant (Cameco) could subsequently process a portion of the production, after obtaining authorization from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. 

The investment by AREVA will be on the order of 90 million euros from 2005 to 2008.  The company reiterates its intention to maintain its market share in the supply of uranium, and to profit from the firmness of demand over the long term. 

* Cameco (50%, mine operator), AREVA (37%), Idemitsu (8%) and Tepco (5%). 


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