The McClean Lake area is a hub of development activity for Areva Resources, as the McClean Lake mill expansion is underway, and multiple mine deposit developments are being worked on.
The first phase of the McClean Lake mill expansion is almost complete, bringing the mill’s capacity to 12 million pounds of U3O8 annually, from a current licensed capacity of eight million pounds. Originally, the expansion was designed to handle ore slurry from the high-grade Cigar Lake mine, however, now, with the arrival of that ore delayed, the mill is adapting its operations to handle lower grade ore from the Sue E and B mines.
A new oxygen plant and ferric sulphate plant coming online will help improve efficiencies. The oxygen is used in the ferric sulphate plant and in the ore leaching process. The ferric sulphate is used as a reagent in the tailings neutralization and water treatment plant processes. This plant could provide the biggest payback when processing uranium ore with high levels of arsenic, as is the case for Sue A ore and should be the case for Sue E and Midwest ores. In this event, the $10 million plant could save a quarter of a million dollars monthly.
The mill isn’t the only focus of expansion onsite at McClean Lake. In anticipation of future activity, 140 new rooms are being added to the permanent camp, doubling the existing capacity.
On the mining side, a number of projects are ongoing that could provide future feed for the McClean Lake mill, including the Mining Equipment Development (MED) project, McClean underground, Sue E, Sue B, and the Caribou project, all of which are at different stages of development.
The MED 2007 project ended in August, with significant progress made regarding extracting uranium ore from small ‘pocket’ deposits using an innovative jet boring technique from surface. Additional test work is required to bring the method to the industrial stage.
An underground mine is being planned near the entrance to the McClean Lake site, and was already considered in the original McClean Lake environmental assessment process. Production is targeted for 2011.
At Sue E mine, ore removal will be completed by the end of the year. At the Sue B orebody, overburden has been stripped and stockpiled, and mining will begin when Sue E is completed and will continue through next fall.
The final project, the Caribou deposit, is moving forward with the regulatory process. Aims are to complete and submit the environmental assessment by early next year.
With so many projects in the pipeline, Areva is looking forward to a productive future.