Cameco is suspending production at its Rabbit Lake Mine operation in northern Saskatchewan, resulting in about 500 jobs lost.
In the release on their website, they also said production is curtailed at Cameco Resources’ US operations by deferring wellfield development. This results in an addition 85 positions reduced.
“We regret the impact these decisions will have on many of the talented and dedicated people working at these operations and on their home communities,” said Cameco president and CEO Tim Gitzel.
“Unfortunately, continued depressed market conditions do not support the operating and capital costs needed to sustain production at Rabbit Lake and the US operations. These measures will allow us to continue delivering value to Cameco’s many stakeholders and support the long-term health of our company. We will provide assistance to those affected by these decisions.”
Gitzel delivered the news in person.
“I wanted to be there with the people,” said Gitzel. “We think of our people and the communities that will be impacted by this decision. This is tough. It was a tough day and I wanted to be standing with them and tell them personally.”
It will take about four months for all the changes to take effect. The Rabbit Lake operation will be placed in a safe care and maintenance state, so Cameco has the ability to reuse the mine if there is a “significant improvement” to market conditions.
Gitzel says they will try to have affected employees relocated to other facilities and try job sharing options.
“We’re pretty much the only game in town up there and have been for some 30 years,” said Gitzel. “We’re the largest employer of aboriginals in Canada and we’re very proud of that.
“This is the mining business. It has its ups and downs, but we’re there for the long term. We still have over 2,000 employees up in northern Saskatchewan. We’ve invested billions of dollars and we’re there for the long term.”
Rabbit Lake, located around 800 kilometres north of Saskatoon, is the second largest uranium milling facility in the western world and longest operating facility of its kind in Saskatchewan.
Cameco said it needs about 150 people to maintain Rabbit Lake facilities longer-term, with environmental monitoring and reclamation activities.
The changes mean Rabbit Lake is expected to produce one million pounds of uranium this year. Production targets have also been lowered at the company’s McArthur/Key Lake operation to 18 million pounds from 20 million because of market oversupply. However, production at Cigar Lake continues to ramp up with plans to produce 16 million pounds this year.