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Orano Canada and Denison Mines to restart McClean Lake mine

Orano McClean Lake.
Orano McClean Lake.

Orano Canada (Orano) and Denison Mines Corp. (Denison) announced on Jan. 24 that their joint-venture – McClean Lake Joint Venture – will restart operations at McClean Lake in northern Saskatchewan.

Mining is planned for the McClean North deposit in 2025. The joint venture will focus on preparing the existing site for mining, as well as “the installation of eight pilot holes for the first mining cavities planned for excavation.”

“Our current ability to capitalize on the strengthening uranium and nuclear markets is the result of a long-term investment in R&D within Orano and the MLJV to secure continued activities at the McClean Lake operation well into the future. The groundwork we do over the course of 2024, is expected to put the MLJV in position to see SABRE in action and to commence production in 2025. It is anticipated that the McClean Lake mill will have sufficient capacity to process this ore, while continuing with committed planned production from Cigar Lake. It’s an exciting time for employees, partners, and the industry as we return to a focus on growth,” said Jim Corman, Orano Canada president and CEO with the announcement.

The companies report that 800,000 lbs. of uranium are targeted for production in 2025, with another 3,000,000 lbs. identified for further production from 2026 to 2030.

“The restart of uranium mining at McClean Lake is a notable milestone for the MLJV and Denison. Mining at McClean Lake was suspended in 2008 in response to declining uranium prices. During the interim 15 years, the MLJV invested in the development of a proprietary mining method designed to selectively extract high-grade Athabasca Basin uranium ores from surface. The successful mining test of the SABRE method in 2021 provided the MLJV with important information about the productivity and cost of SABRE operations. This information suggests an incentive price meaningfully lower than current uranium prices, which has provided the JV with a strong basis to make a restart decision for mining at McClean Lake,” said David Cates, Denison Mines president and CEO.

McClean Lake is located 750 kilometres north of Saskatoon, in the eastern part of the Athabasca Basin. Mining at McClean Lake was suspended in 2008 due to decreased uranium prices.