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Cigar Lake uranium mine starts production, more to come with CETA?

The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix reports, “Ore production has finally begun at the Cigar Lake uranium mine in northern Saskatchewan…. The ore from Cigar Lake is being transported to the McClean Lake mill, which is operated by [Paris-based] Areva Resources Canada Inc. and is located 70 kilometres northeast of the mine site.” The article adds, “The uranium sector has been in a funk since the Fukushima, Japan, disaster in March 2011…. [Cameco CEO Tim] Gitzel said as the Japanese units come back on, and with China announcing Thursday they will be building nuclear facilities faster than previously announced, the long-term prospects are bright.”

The Financial Post adds, “Cameco owns 50% of Cigar Lake, while Areva owns 37%. The remainder is held by Asian energy and utility firms…. For the uranium industry, Cigar Lake is a game-changer. It is expected to churn out 18 million pounds of uranium a year once ramped up to full production.”

Last November, Reuters reported, “Canada has agreed to waive for European companies a longstanding requirement that buyers take on a Canadian partner in uranium mines, a move that may spur greater investment in developing the country’s rich uranium reserves.” The news agency notes this concession by Harper to the uranium mining industry came after intense lobbying by Paris-based Areva SA and the London-based British-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto Plc.

The Canadian Press has noted, “[Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall welcomes the Canada-European Union free trade agreement and] says the changing rules could mean $2.5 billion in investment in the province over the next decade.”

The Council of Canadians has spoken against uranium mining, which creates toxic tailings and poses water contamination and other environmental risks and health hazards. Our formal statement of opposition, approved by our Board of Directors in 2008, says, “The Council of Canadians calls for a ban on all uranium exploration and mining, strengthening of legislation to ensure that any exploration or mining of other materials does not disturb or uncover uranium deposits, and fair, just transition programs for all communities and workers involved in the uranium mining industry.”

Further reading
CETA would mean more uranium mining in Canada
Oliver says CETA will be good for mining companies