Cigar Lake Uranium mine is ontrack and China reactor milestone

1. Cameco today announced it has reached the main mine workings with the second shaft at the Cigar Lake uranium mining project in northern Saskatchewan.

Miners removed the final section of rock connecting shaft 2 with the mine workings 480 metres below surface on January 3, 2012. The second shaft will provide for increased ventilation of the underground workings as well as additional means of entering and exiting the mine.

“The breakthrough is a key milestone on our path to safe, clean and reliable production from this exceptional orebody,” said president and CEO Tim Gitzel. “We expect to resume full mine development and construction activities in 2012 and remain on track to start ore mining by mid-2013.”

Cigar Lake is the world’s largest undeveloped high-grade uranium deposit. The deposit has proven and probable reserves of more than 209.3 million pounds U3O8 at an average grade of 17.04% (Cameco’s share is 104.7 million pounds).

They will ramp up Cigar Lake the production to 5000 tons per year. 5000 tons per year would be about 9% of the world’s 2010 mined uranium production.

2. The dome of the reactor containment building has been successfully lowered into place at unit 1 at the Changjiang nuclear power plant on China’s southern island province of Hainan. Construction is 28 days ahead of schedule.

3. Six nuclear reactors were connected to grids in 2011. The connections included two units in China (Lingao II unit 2 and Qinshan II unit 4), plus Kaiga 4 in India, Bushehr in Iran and Kalinin 4 in Russia. Together, the new units added 4014 MWe of capacity. Additionally, the Chinese Experimental Fast Reactor (CEFR) was also connected to the grid for the first time in July, and was expected to ramp up to its full 20 MWe power before the end of 2011. Capacity uprates at plants in the Czech Republic, Finland, Mexico, Spain and the USA added in excess of 440 MWe to the world’s total nuclear generation capacity.

11,272 MWe of nuclear capacity were lost through the permanent closures of nuclear reactors. Although thirteen reactors shut down in 2011 only one of those had reached the end of its natural life: the UK’s 217 MWe Oldbury 2 Magnox unit, which was connected to the grid in 1968 and finally powered down at the end of June 2011. Oldbury 1 remains in operation but is now scheduled for closure in February 2012, 45 years after its first criticality.

About 12 nuclear reactors are expected to be completed and activated in 2012 and should make up for the permanent closures of 2011. However, there are functional reactors which are in an extended shutdown in Japan.

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