Saskatchewan Mining Association argues problems isolated to uranium market
A representative for Saskatchewan’s mining sector says the industry is alive and well in the province, despite hundreds of layoffs. Pam Schwann, president of the Saskatchewan Mining Association, said last week’s layoffs at Cameco, where 700 workers were permanently laid off are “significant,” but don’t represent the entire industry.
Schwann argues that the issues that led to the indefinite shutdown of the company’s Key Lake and McArthur River uranium mine site are specific to the global uranium market.
“There’s just a surplus of uranium on the market and it’s cheaper for Cameco to purchase and draw down that existing inventory than it is for them to mine a world class deposit at reduced value,” Schwann explained. “The Cigar Lake mine is the highest grade uranium mine in the world, so it’s not like mining is leaving the province.
“Mining is still a really significant employer of people on a primary, direct basis but also indirect, supplier as well.” Some of the employees had already been laid off in November when the company suspended production at the two sites. The closures were expected to last 10 months, but CEO Tim Gitzel said the business situation has not improved.
According to an analyst, the uranium market is in a “rebalancing phase,” and it’s only a matter of time before the market picks up again and Cameco can resume its production.