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AREVA Resources Canada: from exploration to decommissioning

Aerial view of the McClean site

AREVA Resources Canada Inc. specializes in uranium exploration and mining in Canada. The company operates mines and is a partner in several joint ventures. It has also successfully completed the first mining site decommissioning and rehabilitation project following depletion of the reserves.

Established in 1993, AREVA Resources Canada Inc. includes all of the group’s mining operations in Canada. It is based in Saskatoon, in the province of Saskatchewan. It employs nearly 400 people, 40% of whom are residents of Saskatchewan's north or are of Aboriginal ancestry.

Most of the company's active mining projects are located in Northern Saskatchewan. AREVA Resources Canada Inc.:

  • operates the McClean Lake site;
  • is a partner in the McArthur and Cigar Lake mines. These two deposits, which are exceptional both in tonnage and in the high grade of the reserves, are currently considered to have the largest high-grade deposits in the world.

Discovering new deposits

Shaft at the Cigar Lake underground mine

Shaft at the Cigar Lake underground mine

AREVA Resources Canada Inc. is developing and diversifying its long-term reserves through major ongoing exploration activities. Exploration campaigns are conducted in the Athabasca basin, in Saskatchewan Province, and in Nunavut, all of which have high uranium potential. Some very promising deposits are already in the development phase at Midwest, Shea Creek and Kiggavik.

Midwest and McClean Lake – AREVA Resources Canada owns 69% of this deposit, discovered east of the Athabasca basin in 1978, and will operate it. .

The ore will be processed at the McClean Lake mill, 16 kilometers away.

AREVA is also evaluating the possibility of developing an underground mine at its McClean Lake site.

Shea Creek – Exploration efforts have concentrated since 2001 on the Cluff Lake operation to identify potential shallow deposits such as that of Shea Creek. AREVA Resources Canada holds a 51% interest and will operate the deposit, located west of the Athabasca basin, 13 kilometers south of the Cluff Lake site.

Kiggavik-Sisson – The Kiggavik project located 80 kilometers west of Baker Lake in Nunavut (Northern Canada) was reactivated in 2006. AREVA holds a 64.8% interest in the deposit, which was discovered between 1974 and 1997, and will operate it. In 2012, AREVA Resources Canada submitted an Environmental Impact Study to the Nunavut government. The mining project will offer 750 jobs during the construction phase and 400 to 600 jobs during the operating period.

In operation

McArthur River, the world’s largest high-grade deposit, is located about 620 kilometers north of Saskatoon. It is operated by Cameco Corporation, which holds a 69.8% interest in the venture, with AREVA Resources Canada holding the remaining 30.2%. The deposit was discovered in 1988 and mining began in 1999.

Remotely operated equipment is used to mine the deposit to prevent direct worker exposure to the high-grade ore.

The ore is processed at the Key Lake mill, located about 80 kilometers south of the mine. The mill is operated by Cameco Corporation, which has as majority interest of 83.3%, with AREVA Resources owning the remaining 16.7%.

In 2012, the McArthur River mine produced almost 8,900 metric tons of uranium. The McArthur River mine and the Key Lake mill employ close to 900 people and 750 subcontractors, half of whom come from the northern communities of Saskatchewan.

Cigar Lake is the second largest high-grade uranium deposit in the world after McArthur River. The project is located 660 kilometers north of Saskatoon. It will be operated by Cameco Corporation, which holds a 50% interest in the deposit. AREVA has a 37.1% stake. All of the ore extracted from the mine will be processed at the McClean Lake mill operated by AREVA. Mining production is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2014.

Located 450 meters below the surface in unstable, water-saturated rock, the deposit was discovered in 1981 by AREVA, which helped develop the mining method. This method required the development of a technology that strengthens the host rock by freezing it. All of the support galleries will be located in solid rock located below the deposit.

The peak workforce of nearly 500 employees during construction at Cigar Lake will be brought back to about 250 employees when production begins.

McClean Lake is operated by AREVA, which holds a 70% interest in the deposit, with Denison Mines Inc. holding a 22.5% stake and OURD Canada Co. Ltd, of Japan holding 7.5%. Located 700 kilometers north of Saskatchewan, the McClean Lake ore processing plant is the most technologically advanced mill of its kind in the world to process high-grade uranium ore. AREVA Resources Canada launched an extension to the mill to double processing capacity, bringing it to 10,900 metric tons of uranium per year. It will thus be able to process all of the high-grade ore from Cigar Lake as well as ore from other mines, such as the McArthur River mine. It is scheduled to come back on line in the second quarter of 2014. 

A process was set up to hire more than 100 people for AREVA and its subcontractors for the restart of the McClean Lake plant. AREVA seeks to recruit most of these new employees in the northern communities of Saskatchewan.

A MODEL RECLAMATION EXAMPLE

For more than 20 years starting in the 1980s, AREVA Resources Canada owned and operated the Cluff Lake deposit discovered in 1967. Mining operations ceased in 2002 following the depletion of the reserves. Today, Cluff Lake is considered a model mining reclamation program, and was planned from the very beginning of the project.

Site rehabilitation and mill dismantling were completed at the end of 2006. The area has been secured and replanted, and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has decommissioned the mine. Long-term monitoring is now being carried out at the site.

Saskatchewan Province has an institutional monitoring program for long-term site management. AREVA will supply the province with the necessary equipment to conduct environmental monitoring at the former mine site.

A company recognized for the quality of its environmental management practices

As for all of the group's entities, AREVA Resources Canada has an active risk management, natural resources consumption reduction and environmental protection policy.

AREVA Resources Canada Inc. deploys ISO 14001-compliant environmental management systems at all of its sites and for all of its operations.

All of AREVA’s mining sites in Canada have been certified – whether in the exploration, production or rehabilitation phase – and all have a monitoring system for air, water and wildlife in which numerous measurements are taken to reduce the environmental footprint during and after operations.

Contact

AREVA Resources Canada Inc
817 45th Street West
PO Box 9204 S7K 3X5
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Canada
Tel. (1) 306-343-45-00
Fax. (1) 306-653-38-83