Cameco Corp Encounters Delays at Cigar Lake; Output Expected to Start in 2015
Uranium miner Cameo Corporation (TSX:CCO) announced orebodies at its Cigar Lake project in Saskatchewan would not be milled until early 2015 due to freezing problems.
The Canadian company said ground freezing, which is used to freeze the ore and ground around the mine site, had not advanced as quickly as expected. Cameo said it would provide an update to its 2014 production target in its secondary quarter results on July 31 when the assessment is completed.
"Based on early indications from our assessment we expect the production schedule could shift by a couple of months. Although a minor change to the schedule, it means ore that was expected to be milled at the end of the year, will shift into early 2015 thereby affecting our 2014 production target," the company said.
Cameo maintained its long-term goal of mining 18 million pounds annually from Cigar Lake by 2018.
The McClean Lake mill, which had not yet started processing Cigar Lake ore, will temporarily disable jet-boring at the site to allow the orebody to freeze more thoroughly in the area.
"We have determined that freezing has not advanced as quickly as expected in some localized areas of the mine. Given that the McClean Lake mill has not yet started processing Cigar Lake ore, we have decided to temporarily stop jet-boring at Cigar Lake to allow the ore body to freeze more thoroughly in these areas,” Cameco said.
“The additional freezing will allow more continuous production at the mine once the mill is operational.”
Uranium deposits at Cigar Lake occur at depths ranging from 410 m to 450 m below the surface which is where the water-saturated Athabasca sandstone meets the underlying basement rock. To prevent water from entering the production areas of the mine, the ore zone and surrounding ground is being frozen by circulating a brine solution through cased holes drilled from both surface and underground.
Cameco is the majority owner and operator of Cigar Lake with a 50.025 percent stake. Additional partners on the project include Areva Resources Canada Inc. (37.1 percent), Idemitsu Canada Resources Ltd (7.875 percent) and Tepco Resources Inc. (5 percent).
Anglo American: FutureSmart Mining
Anglo American’s approach to technology, digitalisation and sustainability is changing the nature of the way the company mines. These are the step-change innovations that will transform the nature of mining – how the company sources, mines, processes, moves and markets its products – and how its stakeholders experience that business. Anglo American is transforming its physical and societal footprint with FutureSmart Mining.
“FutureSmart Mining is our innovation-led approach to sustainable mining,” Anglo American’s Tom McCulley told Mining Gllobal. In his role as CEO for Anglo American Peru & Group Head of Projects he has overseen investment of more than $5bn at the company’s Quellaveco copper project in Peru.
“These are the step-change innovations that will transform the nature of mining – how we source, mine, process, move and market our products – and how our stakeholders experience our business. It’s about transforming our physical and societal footprint.”
Anglo is undertaking a feasibility study to assess the possibility of rolling out one of its FutureSmart technologies, Coarse Particle Recovery (CPR), at Quellaveco. “CPR crushes particles to 2.5 times larger than normal, reducing energy consumption and mill time, leading to a 20% increase in throughput and 85% water recovery - a key issue in Peru given the concerns around water scarcity,” says McCulley.
“By allowing water to release from the much coarser particles, CPR will reduce the risks associated with wet tailings and ultimately help eliminate them altogether. When combined with low cost additives, it is possible to dewater residual waste and produce dry stackable tailings. This technology remains a focus area for us as water sent to tailings facilities often represents the largest water loss at a mine.”
Quellaveco is going to be the first mine to run the FutureSmart operating model from day one. Anglo’s idea is to build a stable base on which it can layer new technologies, CPR being one of them.
“We will also be a fully digital mine, which brings us future benefits in terms of understanding and applying changes in real time,” adds McCulley. “Our trucks and our drills will be automation-ready. We have taken the approach that, when we decide to move into an autonomous operation, no jobs will be lost, but the nature of some people’s jobs will have to change.”
FutureSmart is a blend of technology and sustainability,” said McCulley in an interview with Global Business Reports. “If you go back to the vision and design of Quellaveco, it has really been focused on the long-term sustainability of the mine through effective use of things like water, energy and the environment. Quellaveco has been focused on technology such as automation, with digital and analytical tools all coming together. We will be looking at future technologies to bolt on as we go to ensure that we are optimizing the sustainable use of resources and remaining cost-effective.”
Anglo American’s Quellaveco copper project in Peru has created 15,000 jobs during construction and approximately 2,500 jobs are planned for operations, increasing Peru’s copper production by a forecast 300,000 tonnes per year. The mine’s first copper production is expected in 2022. To learn more about Anglo American's Quellaveco copper project read our feature here.