Orano Canada operates on the full range of mining activities, from exploration to decommissioning, mining and treatment. The Canadian subsidiary is a shareholder in the Mc Arthur River and Cigar Lake mines, operated by Cameco, and runs the McClean Lake processing plant. It has also successfully completed the first uranium mine redevelopment after the uranium reserves at the Cluff Lake site were depleted.
● 50 years in Canada
● 3 mining and processing sites in northern Canada
● Operator of the McClean Lake mill, the only facility in the world designed to process high-grade uranium ore (in excess of 30%) without dilution
● In 2016, an average grade of 170 kg of uranium per tonne of ore
● McArthur River and Cigar Lake are the world's two largest uranium production mines, producing 6203 tU and 6925 tU respectively in 2017
● McClean Lake: 370 employees, 52% of whom are residents of the north of the province, the majority of whom are Aboriginal

From exploration to uranium mine redevelopment

Operating in Canada since 1964 through various entities, Orano covers all the Group's mining activities in Canada in the province of Saskatchewan as operator or partner to numerous projects.  To secure 20 years of supply to its international clients, Orano Canada is exploring new uranium-bearing lands. At the same time, it ensures the redevelopment of sites at the end of their life-cycle.

Mining resources with exceptionally high uranium content

The Mac Arthur River Camp, Saskatchewan, Canada The Mac Arthur River Camp, Saskatchewan, Canada © Cameco
McArthur River
Discovered in 1988 and located more than 600 metres deep, the McArthur River site is the most prolific deposit in the world with production capacity of 7,700 tonnes of uranium per year.  Due to its very high uranium content, the deposit is mined using specially-developed methods to avoid any direct contact between the ore and the miners.
Production (100%) in 2017: 6,203 tonnes of uranium
Average grade per tonne of ore in 2016: 82 kg
Production tunnel with jet boring machine in Cigar Lake, Canada. Production tunnel with jet boring machine in Cigar Lake, Canada. © Cameco

Cigar Lake
The world's second-highest grade uranium deposit, Cigar Lake is located 450 meters below the surface, in porous, waterlogged rocks. Orano discovered the deposit in 1981 and has contributed to developing an innovative mining method there: the Jet Boring system, a drilling process combining land reinforcement by freezing and high-pressure water mining of ore.

Production (100%) in 2017: 6 925 tonnes of uranium
Average grade per tonne of ore in 2016: 126 kg

Interior of McClean Lake mill, uranium solution sampling protocol, Canada. Interior of McClean Lake mill, uranium solution sampling protocol, Canada. © Orano
McClean Lake
The only plant in the world capable of processing high-grade ore without dilution. The site is operated by Orano Mining which holds 70% of the shares alongside Denison Mines LTD and OURD (Overseas Uranium Resources Development Company Ltd, Japan).
The capacity of the plant designed to process very high grade ores (>15%) has been increased to process 100% of Cigar Lake ore as well as ore from other deposits... In 2016, it received regulatory approval to increase its production capacity to 9,200 tonnes of uranium per year.
Plant capacity: 9,200 tonnes of uranium yearly
75% dedicated to ore from Cigar Lake

An exploration programme helping to prepare the future

New deposits to sustain the McClean Lake mill
In Canada, Orano is continuing its exploration efforts, focusing on the most economical new sites. This is the case in the Athabasca Basin, a region with high potential that could supply the McClean Lake plant and increase the volume of reserves, giving its customers visibility over the next 20 years of production.

Over 30 exploration programmes in Canada
Better defined identified deposits
On average, it takes 10 years to confirm the exploitable resource of a new deposit. Exploration then continues throughout the mining project to develop additional resources located in the vicinity.Prospecting is carried out in successive stages: geological study of the region, interpretation of aerial or satellite photos, geophysical techniques, measurements of radioactivity in the field and study of soil and water chemistry.

Cluff Lake, re-developing end-of-lifecycle sites

Aerial view of redeveloped mining site at Cluff Lake, Canada. Aerial view of redeveloped mining site at Cluff Lake, Canada. © Jerry Humeny, Black Box Images / Orano
Canada's first redeveloped uranium mine
The Cluff Lake mine site operated for 22 years between 1980 and 2002 and was redeveloped between 2004 and 2006 after reserves were exhausted. It encompassed 4 open-pit mines and 2 underground mines that produced over 23,500 tonnes of uranium.
As soon as the mining project was rolled out, Orano Canada designed and programmed its redevelopment to limit the site's impact on the population and the environment. The rehabilitation process was carried out in several stages: filling the open-cast mines, securing the underground mining works, demolishing the plant, as well as covering the tailings and re-planting the whole site.

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