Start-up problems delay production from Cameco’s Cigar Lake mine into 2014 – by By Lauren Krugel (Canadian Press/Montreal Gazette – September 9, 2013)

SASKATOON – Cameco Corp. says its long-delayed Cigar Lake uranium mine in Saskatchewan won’t begin producing until early 2014 because of some glitches it encountered during the start-up process.

The company had expected to produce 300,000 pounds of milled uranium this year, but on Monday said it will be unable to meet that target. The Cigar Lake mine — delayed several times in recent years due to flooding and other technical issues — is 97 per cent complete and had been close to finally starting up.

“When a mine is being commissioned, issues are going to come up and Cigar Lake is no exception,” CEO Tim Gitzel told a conference call.

“While we’re not happy with these delays, we have to keep in mind that Cigar Lake is a long-term project that we expect to last for many, many years. It is an important source of what will be low cost production for Cameco and a key component of our strategy to increase annual production to 36 million pounds by 2018.”

Gitzel said a small amount of water — about what would come out of a garden hose — was seeping out of “run of mine” areas, or ROMs. Those are underground tanks where ore chips are separated from water before they can be ground up.

Because that water would have come into contact with radon-bearing ore, the water leak posed a safety concern for workers.

Cameco decided to line those tanks with steel before the mine can begin production.

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