Mining and Ore Handling Methods at the McArthur River Underground High Grade Uranium Mine

CIM Edmonton 2004
Abstract The McArthur River Operation, a joint venture between Cameco Corporation and Cogema Resources, mines high grade unconformity style uranium deposits using a unique raisebore mining method. Average ore grade is 22% U3O8. Mining areas must be pre-conditioned by ground freezing in order to reduce the potential for ground water inflow. Conventional raiseboring is then conducted followed by concrete backfilling. Ore is collected at the bottom of production raises by remote controlled LHD's and is then delivered to an underground grinding and thickening system. This ore slurry is then pumped 670 metres vertically via dedicated boreholes to a surface receiving facility. At 18.7 M lb per annum of U3O8, McArthur River is the worlds' largest uranium mine based on output. This paper provides an overview of the operation and discusses the potential broader use of grinding and pumping systems as an underground ore handling approach.
Keywords: Ground Freezing, hydraulic hoisting, Uranium, Raiseboring
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