The McClean Lake mill, 850 km northeast of Saskatoon in northern Saskatchewan, is Orano Canada’s flagship operation. It is a unique uranium milling facility that allows for the processing of undiluted, high-grade uranium ore, which is supplied by the Cigar Lake mine operated by Cameco Corporation, 80 km away (average grade 15% U3O8, the highest in the world). At the mine, ore is extracted from an orebody two kilometres long and 450 m deep, mixed into a slurry, and trucked to the mill site.
The mill can produce 24 million pounds of yellowcake (uranium concentrate) annually, and in 2022 achieved total production of 18 million pounds U3O8.
The Cigar Lake Mine
Cameco’s Cigar Lake mine is the world’s highest grade uranium mine, which has produced over 123 million pounds of ore since beginning operations in 2015. It is also notable for its innovative jet-boring technique, developed specifically for this deposit.
Orano owns over 30% of the McArthur River mine and nearly 17% of the Key Lake mill, both operated by Cameco. This mine holds large reserves of high-grade ore (7% U3O8 average), which is processed at Key Lake. In 2022, Cameco restarted the operations. The operations plan to produce 15 million pounds in 2023 and 18 million pounds in 2024.