Cigar Lake's Jet Boring Mining Method

CIM Edmonton 2004
Guy Morand, Barry Schmitke,
Abstract Cameco Corporation, on behalf of a joint venture, is preparing surface and underground facilities at their northern Saskatchewan property in preparation for the future operation of a high grade uranium mine.

The Cigar Lake orebody is situated about 430 metres below surface at the unconformity between metamorphic basement rocks and flat lying sandstone. Major technical factors influencing the mining method selection include ground stability, control of ground water, radiation exposure, and ore handling and storage. A decade-long test mine program resulted in the selection and validation of "jet boring", a non-entry mining method.

Cigar Lake's jet boring mining method involves several major steps; artificial ground freezing of the orebody and surrounding rock, TBM (tunnel boring) type development of access crosscuts below the orebody, installation of cased pilot holes upwards through the ore, and ore extraction using a rotating high pressure water jet within the pilot holes. The resulting cavities are surveyed and backfilled with concrete. The ore slurry will be processed underground and pumped to surface.

This paper discusses the jet boring mining method in general terms and includes highlights of the Cigar Lake test mine program completed in 2000.
Keywords: Cameco, Uranium, Jet boring, waterjet mining, Ground Freezing
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