Canadian uranium producer Cameco recently provided a market update regarding challenges at the Cigar Lake mine and Key Lake mill that are expected to impact its 2023 production forecast.
At the Cigar Lake mine, the company now expects to produce up to 16.3 million lb of uranium concentrate (U3O8) this year, a reduction from the previous forecast of 18 million lb U3O8. Production from the McArthur River/Key Lake operations for 2023 is anticipated to be 14 million lb U3O8, down from the previous forecast of 15 million lb U3O8.
As previously reported, mining activities at the Cigar Lake operation were initiated from a new zone in the orebody (west pod) in the second quarter of this year, which impacted productivity. As mining activities continued in the west pod during the third quarter, equipment reliability issues emerged which further affected performance. The mine is scheduled to enter its planned annual maintenance shutdown that will run through most of September.
At the Key Lake mill, ramp-up activities remain ongoing. Cameco reported continued uncertainty regarding planned production in 2023 at Key Lake due to the length of time the facility was in care and maintenance, the operational changes that were implemented, availability of personnel with the necessary skills and experience, and the impact of supply chain challenges on the availability of materials and reagents.
This expected production shortfall further highlights the growing security of supply risk at a time when Cameco believes the demand outlook is stronger and more durable than ever and where the risk has shifted from producers to utilities.