Mining to resume at McClean Lake (World Nuclear News – January 25, 2024)

More than 15 years after mining was suspended at McClean Lake in Saskatchewan, joint venture partners Orano Canada Inc and Denison Mines Corp have announced that production is to restart using the patented Surface Access Borehole Resource Extraction (SABRE) mining method.

The companies intend to begin mining at the McClean North deposit in 2025, targeting production of 800,000 pounds U3O8 (308 tU, 100% basis) in 2025. Around 3 million pounds U3O8 (100% basis) has been identified for potential additional production from a combination of the McClean North and Caribou deposits from 2026 to 2030.

SABRE is a non-entry, surface-based mining method that uses a high-pressure water jet placed at the bottom of a drill hole to excavate a mining cavity. The cuttings from the excavation process are then air lifted to the surface, separated and stockpiled.

This innovative mining method can potentially allow economic access to relatively small high-grade orebodies that are either too small or too deep to be mined economically by conventional open-pit and/or underground mining methods, the companies say.

SABRE also offers operational and environmental advantages compared to conventional mining techniques. It is selective and scalable, which the companies say makes it suited to changing uranium market conditions, with an expected production ramp up of months instead of years.

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