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Uranium in Canada

(Updated 27 February 2015)

  • Canada was the world's largest uranium producer for many years, accounting for about 22% of world output, but in 2009 was overtaken by Kazakhstan.
  • Production comes mainly from the McArthur River mine in northern Saskatchewan province, which is the largest in the world.
  • Production is expected to increase significantly from 2015 as the new Cigar Lake mine comes into full operation.
  • With known uranium resources of 572,000 tonnes of U3O8 (485,000 tU), as well as continuing exploration, Canada has a significant role in meeting future world demand.

Canada U Map

Canada is a country rich in uranium resources and a long history of exploration, mining and generation of nuclear power (for coverage of nuclear power, see information page on Nuclear Power in Canada). To 2008, more uranium had been mined in Canada than any other country – 428,000 tU, 18% of world total.

Exploration for uranium ore began in earnest in 1942 under direction of the government for military purposes. A wartime ban on private prospecting was lifted in 1947, which led in the early 1950s to the discovery of major deposits near Elliot Lake, Ontario, and northern Saskatchewan. By 1959, 23 mines and 19 treatment plants were in operation, and Canada's C$330 million in uranium exports exceeded the value for every other mineral.

A second burst of exploration in the 1970s resulted in major discoveries in the Athabasca Basin in northern Saskatchewan, in Proterozoic unconformity deposits. Mines at Rabbit Lake, Cluff Lake and Key Lake started up in 1975, 1980 and 1983, which up until 2000 accounted for most of Canada's uranium production (14,223 tonnes of U3O8 in 1998). Cluff Lake, Key Lake and the original open pit at Rabbit Lake have now been mined out (underground mining continues at Rabbit Lake). Mines that began operation just a decade ago now contribute most of Canada's production (see also Appendix 1: Brief History of Uranium Mining in Canada).

Canada’s Non-Resident Ownership Policy (NROP) for uranium projects had, since 1987, restricted foreign ownership of uranium mines to a maximum of 49%. The ownership structures then in place were “grandfathered” from the new policy and were able to continue. The policy provided for exemptions in situations where Canadian partners cannot be found, and applied to uranium production only. Uranium exploration was not subject to NROP, and there were several exploration-level uranium assets in Canada with major foreign ownership which cannot proceed to mining unless the NROP was liberalised. As part of the Canada-EU free trade agreement negotiated in October 2013, the foreign ownership restrictions would be relaxed. Foreign investment in Canada generally remains subject to the Investment Canada Act.

Current production

Canada’s uranium production is tabulated below, and while relatively constant over the last few years, its share of world production has dropped from about 20% to 15%.

The main uranium producers are Cameco and Areva Resources Canada (formerly Cogema Resources), part of France's Areva Group. Cameco was formed in the 1988 merger of Saskatchewan Mining Development Corporation and the government-owned Eldorado Nuclear Ltd. The company issued its first public shares in 1991 and was fully privatized in 2002.

In the early 1990s, the Saskatchewan government had considered phasing out uranium mining in the province. This policy was later reversed after a joint Federal-Saskatchewan study panel on health, safety, environment and socio-economic impact found that the jobs provided by the industry would be hard to replace and that the environmental impact of mining could be minimized. Today, the provincial government actively supports uranium mining, and all new Saskatchewan uranium mines have international ISO 14001 environmental certification.

Annual uranium production (tonnes U3O8)a

  2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
McArthur River 6877 8491 8491 8492 8492 7528 8654 9029 9064 8868 9135 8675
Cigar Lake - - - - - - - - - - 0 156
McClean Lake 2734 2724 2490 814 867 1476 1637 785 0 0 0 0
Rabbit Lake 2690 2462 2732 2326 1821 1613 1706 1726 1721 1744 1872 1889
Cluff Lake 32 - - - - - - -        
Total 12333 13676 13713 11632 11180 10617 11997 11540 10785 10612 11007 10720
cf. World 41998 47430 49052 46499 48680 51611 59772 63285 63085 68805 70015  

Domestic production in tonnes of uranium (as opposed to U3O8) is given in Note a.

Canadian uranium exports (tonnes uranium)b

  2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Canadian production 11628 9863 9477 9000 10173 9786
Less: domestic use 1607 1620 1661* 1670* 1845* 1675*
Canadian export 10021 8243 7816 7330 8328 8111

McArthur River 

The McArthur River uranium mine is the world's largest in terms of annual production. Also it has enormous reserves (about 175,000 tonnes U3O8, 148,300 tU) of high grade ore (16.5% U3O8 after allowance for dilution) located 600 metres underground. The mine is licensed to 2023 for 8500 t/yr U3O8 average production, but this may flex up to 9530 t. Remote control raise boring methods are used to mine the ore, which is then trucked 80 km south to be milled at Key Lake, site of the closed mine that once produced 15% of the world's uranium. 

At the mill, which has been modified for the McArthur River ore, the ore is blended with 'special waste rock' and processed to produce U3O8. Tailings are deposited in a mined-out pit. The licensed capacity of the Key Lake mill is basically 8,500 t/yr U3O8, but after Cameco applied for an increase to 10,000 t/yr permission was given for mill production up to 9,250 t/yr to catch up earlier year shortfalls. In July 2014 CNSC approved an increase in mill production to 11,360 t/yr U3O8. From 2018 it projects 10,000 t/yr U3O8 subject to regulatory approval. Cameco quotes c$20/lb production cost (mid-2013).

Cameco is the majority owner and operator of McArthur River mine (69.8%) as well as the Key Lake Mill (Areva is a 30.2% and 16.7% partner, respectively). Areva has applied for a licence to process some McArthur river ore at McClean Lake.

Other deposits close to McArthur River are prospective.

McClean Lake

After starting operation in mid-1999, McClean Lake produced about 2500 t/yr of U3O8 from 2.4% ore up until 2005, although production was well down in 2006 through to 2010 due to lower ore grades. The mine was relicensed at 3640 t/yr. Operations have comprised three open pits, with an underground mine from Sue B pit planned for the future. McClean Lake also has high-quality new plant and infrastructure. It uses the first mined-out pit for tailings disposal – the JEB tailings management facility.

The JEB mill has been expanded to 5,500 t/yr U3O8 to accommodate the ore that was to be shipped from the Cigar Lake mine now under construction (see section on Cigar Lake below). Under arrangements concluded in 2011 it will treat all the Cigar Lake ore, and Areva plans a further investment of nearly C$ 150 million to upgrade the plant and increase its capacity to more than 8500 t/yr U3O8 Areva says that the mill is the most technologically-advanced in the world, being able to treat ore from less than 1% to 30% U, and in fact is the only facility capable of processing high-grade uranium ore without diluting it. CNSC gave regulatory approval at the end of 2012 to operate the mill with high-grade ore from McArthur River and increase production from 3640 to 5900 t/yr of concentrate. Areva plans to commission and restart the mill in 2013, and first deliveries from Cigar Lake are expected in 2014. Areva says it is the only uranium mill in the world able to process high-grade ore without dilution, and it plans to increase the capacity to 10,900 tonnes U3O8 per year.

Efforts to increase production to fill the gap left by the delay in Cigar Lake production have had limited success, and development of the nearby small Caribou deposit awaits improved economic conditions. Mining of Sue E deposit 2005-08 and Sue B in 2008 over 2008-10 provided ore for the mill until mid-2010 when it was shut down and put on to care and maintenance. This was to last until about a year before the Cigar Lake ore starts to be processed, unless Areva's 30% share of McArthur River high-grade ore can be diverted there. In March 2010 Areva applied for a licence to divert some McArthur River high-grade ore there for three years, entailing a 950 km road haul. Some 115,000 tonnes of low-grade ore remains stockpiled to be treated when markets improve, or possibly a diluent for the McArthur River ore. Reserves are small.

McClean Lake is majority-owned (70%) and operated by Areva Resources. Denison Mines (22.5%) and the Japanese company Overseas Uranium Resources Development (OURD, 7.5%) are Areva's joint venture partners.

Rabbit Lake

Uranium was discovered at Rabbit Lake in 1968 and it was brought into production by Cameco in 1975. Most of the deposit has been mined out, but reserves still exist at Eagle Point, where around 1700 t/yr of U3O8 from an ore grade of 2.1% have been mined underground in recent years. Production is expected to diminish in the next few years, though to 2014 Cameco considered a prospective Rabbit Lake extension.

Cigar Lake 

Mining commenced at Cigar Lake in 2014. The proven and probable ore reserves at Cigar Lake are extremely large and very high grade. A 480-metre-deep underground mine was developed in very poor ground conditions – the orebody is actually in the soft Athabasca sandstone. Hence it uses ground freezing and remotely-controlled high pressure water jets at this level to excavate the ore. Known resources are 130,000 tonnes U3O8 at about 17% average grade, and with other resources the mine is expected to have a life of at least 30 years. Production is expected to ramp up to 8,200 t/yr U3O8 (7,000 tU/yr) over four years from late 2014. In 2015 it is expected to be about half that figure.

Ore slurry from remote mining is trucked for toll treatment at Areva's expanded McClean Lake mill, 70 km northeast, with average feed grade of 20.7% U3O8. (Prior to October 2011 it was envisaged that all of the leaching would be done at McClean Lake and about half of the uranium solution will go on to Cameco's Rabbit Lake mill 70 km east for final production of uranium oxide concentrate. The revised arrangement will reduce costs by 20%.) 

Construction on the project began in 2005 with production originally scheduled to start in 2011. However, underground floods in 2006 and 2008 set the start date back until 2014 and increased the overall cost of the project from C$660 million to about C$2.6 billion. There are extra requirements for pumping capacity – now 2500 m3/h, and ground refrigeration. In February 2010, dewatering was complete and remediation remediation proceeded. The 425 m level was backfilled and new workings developed in more competent rock at 480 m level. The first jet boring commenced in December 2013. The estimated average cash operating cost for Cigar Lake increased from $14.40 per pound U3O8 in 2007 to $23.14, but revised milling plans have reduced this estimate to $18.60 per pound. The first ore slurry was sent to the McClean Lake mill in March 2014, and treatment began in October 2014.

Some 1.3 million cubic metres of waste rock from Cigar Lake is being emplaced under water in the Sue C pit at McClean Lake, to prevent acid generation from it. Tailings will remain at McClean Lake.

A Cigar Lake II deposit nearby is being investigated.

Cameco, which has 50% ownership, is managing the joint venture, with Areva holding 37%, Idemitsu 8% and TEPCO 5%.

Future mines

Uranium production in Canada is likely to increase significantly as several new mines, now planned or under construction, go into operation. The two largest projects are Cameco's Cigar Lake mine and Areva's Midwest mine, both in northern Saskatchewan. The mill at McClean Lake has been modified to process ore from both mines. The Rabbit Lake mill will also be modified to take ore from Cigar Lake. Total production is expected to be 8,200 t/yr U3O8 from Cigar Lake and 2,600 t/yr from Midwest.

Canadian uranium resourcesc

Mine Province Operator tonnes U tonnes
Average ore grade U3O8d Category
Rabbit Lake Sask Cameco 9800 11,600 0.76% proven & probable reserves
McClean Lake Sask Areva 337 397 0.42% proven & probable reserves
      5220 6156 4.81% measured + indicated resources
McArthur River Sask Cameco 77,780 91,700 23.81% proven reserves
      70,800 83,500 12.30% probable reserves
      4550 5360 6.35% measured + indicated resources
      21,700 25,600 7.86% inferred resources
Cigar Lake Sask Cameco 83,560 98,540 18.30% proven & probable reserves
      850 1000 2.27% measured + indicated resources
      38,300 44,950 12.01% inferred resources
Midwest Sask Areva 2227 2626 0.57% indicated resources
Dawn Lake Sask Cameco 6885 8120 4.42% indicated resources
Millennium Sask Cameco 19,590 23,100 4.55% indicated resources
      6,400 7,575 2.54% inferred resources
Shea Creek Sask Areva-UEX 26,100 30,770 1.48% indicated resources
      10,870 12,800 1.01% inferred resources
Phoenix Sask Denison 27,000 31,900 19.13% indicated resources
Roughrider Sask Hathor/ Rio 22,300 26,300 2.0-11.6% indicated & inferred resources
Tamarack Sask Cameco 6900 8100 4.42% indicated resources
Kiggavik Nunavut Areva 48,953 57,730 0.554% indicated resources
Michelin Labrador Aurora 32,430 38,240 0.10% measured + indicated resources
      8820 10,400 0.12% inferred resources
Jacques Lake Labrador Aurora 4000 4700 0.08% measured + indicated resources
Matoush Quebec Strateco 4740* 5590 0.954% indicated resources
      6320 7450 0.442% inferred resources

Cameco's McArthur River reserve figures include allowance for 20% dilution from backfill and mineralized waste mined, so grade is 20% less than in situ.


Indicated resources at Midwest were 19,500 tonnes of U3O8 with an average ore grade of 5.50%, but the figure was radically downgraded in Areva's 2013 report. (Probable reserves in this comprise 18,870 t at 5.47%.) A further prospect 3 km to the north, Midwest A, had 2600 t U3O8 indicated at 0.57%. The original plans were for an underground mine, utilising ground freezing and water jet boring, but current plans call for a large open pit mine that will go to a depth of 215 metres and involve draining an arm of South McMahon Lake. The ore will be shipped 15 km to the McClean Lake mill. A comprehensive environmental assessment for the project began in 2006 and federal environmental approval for open pit mining was received in August 2012. Other potential mining methods are being evaluated, including conventional underground and surface jet bore drilling, using the SABRE (“Surface Access Borehole Resource Extraction”) mining technology.

Production was originally scheduled to begin in 2011, but in 2008 the starting date was postponed due several factors, including a 50% rise in the initial estimated capital costs of $435 million. The Midwest project is being managed by Areva Resources, which owns 69.16%. Denison Mines has a 25.17% stake and OURD Canada 5.67%.

Dawn Lake

Although its development is much further off, a deposit of more than 8000 tonnes U3O8 of indicated resources is prospective at Dawn Lake in northern Saskatchewan. Grades of up to 30% ore at depths of 280 metres have also been reported nearby. Cameco has 57.4%, Areva 23.1% and Japan-Canada Uranium subsidiary JCU (Canada) Exploration 19.4%.

Cameco’s Tamarack deposit associated with Dawn Lake has an indicated resource of 8100 tonnes U3O8 at 4.42%, requiring underground mining.


The Millennium deposit (now 70% owned by Cameco, 30% JCU) has indicated resources of 23,100 tonnes of 4.5% grade U3O8 and 7575 tonnes of 2.1% grade inferred. It is between McArthur River and Key Lake, and ore would be milled at Key Lake. A feasibility study on the project led to Cameco seeking approval to mine it at about 2500 tU/yr. The environmental assessment was approved at the end of 2013. Underground development was envisaged over 2013-17, but in mid-2013 Cameco said it was not a primary project, and in May 2014 it halted developments pending improvement in the uranium prices. In 2012 Cameco paid C$150 million for Areva's 28% share.


In the Nunavut Territory, some 500 km north of Manitoba, a joint venture headed by Areva is conducting a feasibility study on the Kiggavik uranium deposit in the Thelon Basin, with indicated resources of 60,000 tonnes U3O8 at 0.55% grade. The indigenous Inuit organization, Nunavut Tunngavic, reversed its previous ban on uranium exploration and mining in 2006, but the project has faced opposition from other groups. In March 2010, the Nunavut government ruled that the proposal would be reviewed by a territorial regulator rather than undergo a federal environmental assessment. In October 2014 Areva Resources submitted a final environmental impact statement to the Nunavut Impact Review Board. The project involves the development of three open pit mines at Kiggavik and both an open pit mine and an underground mine at Sissons. Areva and its partners, JCU (Canada) Exploration (33.5% in Kiggavik) and Daewoo, hope for a start-up of the mine and mill complex when the market improves, to produce about 3000 tU/yr over 14 years.e

Exploration prospects

In addition to mining operations planned for the near future, active exploration involving more than 40 companies continues in many parts of Canada. While exploration has concentrated on northern Saskatchewan, new prospects extend to Labrador and Nova Scotia in the Atlantic provinces, Quebec province, Nunavut Territory in the far north, and Ontario's Elliott Lake area. Resource figures quoted are generally NI 43-101 compliant. Cameco alone had an exploration budget of $96 million in 2010 and expected to spend $90 million in 2011.

The 2009 IAEA Red Book says that in 2007-08 "uranium exploration remained focused on areas favourable for the occurrence of deposits associated with Proterozoic unconformities in the Athabasca Basin of Saskatchewan, and to a lesser extent, similar geologic settings in the Thelon and Hornby Bay basins of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. 

The main prospect in the Eastern Canada's Central Mineral Belt, in Labrador, is the Michelin deposit, which is being drilled in a C$21million program by Aurora Energy Resources (subsidiary of Paladin Energy, acquired in 2011). Michelin and nearby Jacques Lake are the main deposits, with minor amounts in Rainbow and three others. More than half the known resources of 62,000 t U3O8 will require underground mining. All are metasomatite-type mineralization except for Moran Lake which is iron-ore-copper-gold (IOCG) with subeconomic uranium. Michelin has rare earths. In 2009, a positive economic assessment of the project proposed investment of US$ 984 million to set up mine and mill, with production ramping up to 3000 t/yr. 

A Nunatsiavut government three-year moratorium until March 2011 was in place, and expiry of this coincided with completion of a land use planning assessment undertaken jointly by the Nunatsiavut and Newfoundland-Labrador governments. After establishing a lands administration system, developing environmental protection legislation, and following a review and public consultation, in December 2011 the Nunatsiavut Assembly voted unanimously to lift a moratorium on the development of uranium deposits on Labrador Inuit lands, and this was legislated in March 2012. Five of Aurora's six uranium deposits in the Central Mineral Belt fall within the Labrador Inuit lands. The Michelin deposit has measured resources of 15,490 tonnes U3O8 (13,135 tU), indicated resources of 22,750 tonnes U3O8 (19,290 tU) and inferred resources of 10,400 tonnes U3O8 (8820 tU) based on NI 43-101 figures published in mid-2014. About 40% of the measured and indicated resource in Michelin is amenable to open cut mining. Measured and incubated resources in five other associated deposits, mostly Jacques Lake, are 7500 t U3O8.

Bayswater Uranium Corp. has announced a very small deposit at Anna Lake nearby. Mega Uranium is drilling at Bruce River and Aillik East in the region.

In Nunavut, Kivalliq Energy has identified 12,330 t U3O8 (10,500 tU) inferred resources grading 0.69% U3O8 with 0.2% cut-off at the Lac Cinquante deposit of its Angilak project, and higher-grade intersections since will update this early in 2013. Its adjacent Lac 50 Trend deposit has 19,680 t U3O8 inferred resource at same cut-off. Also in Nunavut, at Amer Lake, Uranium North Resources has reported inferred resources of 9500 t U3O8 .

In uranium-rich northern Saskatchewan, exploration projects are now well-advanced at several locations. 

The Shea Creek project (51% owned by Areva, 49% UEX Corp. which is 21.3% owned by Cameco) in the western Athabasca Basin 13 km south of Cluff Lake has reported high grade ore. In April 2013, UEX announced indicated resources of 30,770 t U3O8 grading 1.48% and inferred resources of 12,800 tonnes grading 1.01%, as of January, with cut-off 0.30%. The deposit remains open. Production at about 2500 tU/yr is envisaged. Exploration expenditure to the end of 2012 was C$40.5 million.

UEX is also exploring the Horseshoe and Raven deposits at Hidden Bay in the eastern Athabasca basin (5 km from Rabbit Lake and 12 km from McClean Lake). The Horseshoe deposit has indicated resources of 10,400 tonnes of U3O8 at a grade of 0.20% at 100 to 400 m depth. Raven has indicated resources of 5500 tonnes at 0.11%, with cut-off 0.05%, at 100 to 300 m deep. These amounts increase slightly with 0.02% cut-off. A Preliminary Technical Assessment of the deposits in 2011 was positive and recommends a preliminary feasibility study which also includes the smaller but shallow West Bear deposit (720 t at 0.91%). The 2011 report assumes Horseshoe access by decline and Raven by open cut, with toll milling and tailings management at Rabbit Lake mill over seven years. 

Denison's prime focus is the Wheeler River project half way between Key Lake and McArthur River. It is a long strike from the latter and geologically very similar, with some high-grade uranium mineralisation. In June 2014 the NI 43-101 compliant indicated resources for the Phoenix deposits were upgraded to 31,900 t U3O8 at an average grade of 19.13%, for underground mining, with cut-off grade 0.8%. Denison has a 60% interest, Cameco 30% and JCU (Canada) 10%. With a consortium led by Korea Electric Power Corp (Kepco), Denison (60%) is exploring the Waterbury Lake area near Midwest. In September 2013 it announced an NI 43-101 indicated resources of 4900 tU grading 1.7%U for the J-Zone at Waterbury Lake.

Fission Uranium Corp is exploring Patterson Lake South on the southwest margin of the Athabasca Basin, 90 km south of Cluff Lake. It announced in January 2015 that the Triple R deposit, part of this property, had 30,600 tU of indicated resources at 1.58%, and 10,000 tU inferred resources at 1.3% (NI 43-101 compliant). The former includes a high-grade zone with 17,000 tU at 18.2% U3O8. Most of the deposit is less than 250 m deep. The company was spun out of Fission Energy Corp after Denison bought it in 2003, and it then took full ownership of the Patterson Lake prospects, paying Alpha Minerals C$ 185 million for its half share.

The Roughrider prospect 24 km from Rabbit Lake in Athabasca Basin at the time of takeover of Hathor Exploration had inferred resources of 13,700 t U3O8 at 11.58%, with 0.4% cut-off in the Eastern zone, for underground mining, and in the West zone indicated resources of 7800 t U3O8 at 1.98% and 4800 t inferred resources at 11.03% with 0.5% cut-off, for open pit mining. The East Zone is a series of moderately-dipping stacked, parallel lenses (greater than 0.5% U3O8). Since then further drilling has extended the resource. A preliminary economic assessment for Hathor suggested low production costs over an 11-year mine life producing 1900 tU per year. Hathor was subject to a takeover bid from Cameco but agreed to another from Rio Tinto, valuing the company at C$654 million.

In Nova Scotia, exploration has been proposed at Millet Brook, but it awaits a review of a 1985 moratorium on uranium mining in the province.

In Quebec, uranium exploration is underway at several locations with a total of more than 40,000 tonnes of indicated or inferred deposits. However, in April 2013 the Quebec government announced that no permits for uranium exploration or mining would be issued in Quebec until an independent study into its environmental impact had been completed, possibly in 2014. There was then a push to extend this for a year. In addition to environmental groups, the Grand Council of the Crees is opposed to any uranium mining in Quebec. A government decision is expected in mid-2015.

In the Otish Mountains of central Quebec Strateco Resources Inc. had been granted a licence by CNSC to conduct underground exploration on the Matoush deposit from 2014, and commenced environmental studies for the project. Matoush has indicated resources of 5600 tU at 0.81%U and inferred resources of 6320 tU at 0.375%U, and the company projeced mine production of 1000 tU/yr over 7 years from 2016. Strateco commenced legal action against the provincial government following the April 2013 moratorium, and announced an impairment charge of $87 million in its accounts due to its inability to proceed with the project’s underground exploration program, the suspension of exploration and evaluation planned for 2014, and the uncertainty created for Quebec’s uranium industry. In November 2013 the Quebec government refused to authorize the Matoush underground exploration phase. Strateco said it had invested over $123 million in the project to date. In December Strateco launched a C$ 190 million claim against the provincial government for the loss of its investments. "It should be recalled that on the basis of extremely detailed, rigorous environmental and social impact studies, Strateco received approvals for the underground exploration phase of the Matoush project from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, the federal Minister of the Environment and the federal administrator of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, as well as a positive recommendation from the provincial evaluation committee," the company said.

In November 2014 Toro Energy from Australia acquired a 19.8% interest in Strateco as part of a financing package.

Abitex Resources/ABE Resources is exploring its Epsilon project in the Otish Mountains of Quebec. Azimut Exploration has committed C$42 million to uranium exploration, mainly for the Katavic project in Quebec's northern Nunavik region and other prospects in the Ungava Bay region further north. Uracan Resources reports 3100 tonnes U3O8 of indicated resources and 16,900 tonnes of inferred resources in the Double S zone at its North Shore prospect in eastern Quebec. Areva is establishing a joint venture with Waseco Resources to explore the Labrador Trough project.

In Northwest Territories, Cameco has the prospective Boomerang project in the southwest Thelon Basin. Land access issues hinder active exploration at present.

The Elliot Lake area of Ontario, which was the centre of Canada's early uranium mining, is again attracting exploration. In September 2008, Pele Mountain Resources commenced the permitting process for its Eco Ridge underground uranium and rare earth oxides mine and processing facility in the region. Eco Ridge contains indicated resources of 10,250 tonnes U3O8 and inferred resources of 17,100 tonnes U3O8 along with significant REO resources.  The Serpent River-Pecors deposit is a few kilometres east.

In British Columbia, the Blizzard prospect south of Kelowna, which was first explored in the 1980s, was revived by Boss Power. The company challenged a provincial government moratorium on exploration and mining imposed in April 2008, and the British Columbia government settled by paying the company $30.36 million in 2014.

Uranium exploration appears to be on the upswing throughout Canada. Cameco spent C$57 million on exploration in 2008 (plus a further $32 million in three strategic partnerships with junior explorers) and plans C$50-55 million for 2009, mainly in Saskatchewan, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. In late 2007, Cameco announced an agreement with the Russian company Uranium Holding ARMZ (JSC Atomredmetzoloto) to create a joint venture to explore and mine uranium in northwest Russia, Saskatchewan and Nunavut.

Recent transfers to foreign ownership 

As well as foreign equity in the companies with uranium mines, in recent years there has been increased interest in exploration companies. Some companies active in Canada are foreign-based, eg Areva. The following table outlines some recent foreign investment in Canadian-based or established explorers, or particular projects, which have credible resources.

Company Main deposit Overseas investor and share Value of share When
Uranium One In Kazakhstan, also USA ARMZ, 51.4% C$1425 million Dec 2010
Hathor Exploration Roughrider Rio Tinto, 100% C$654 million Nov 2011

Further Information


Appendix 1: Brief History of Uranium Mining in Canada

Related information pages

Nuclear Power in Canada


a. Data: company sources. 

Annual uranium production (tonnes U)

  2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
McArthur River 7199 5831 7200 7200 7200 7199 6383 7339 7656 7686 7520 7744 7356
Cigar Lake - - - - - - - - - - - 0 132
McClean Lake 2342 2318 2310 2112 690 734 1249 1388 666 0 0 0 0
Rabbit Lake 440 2281 2087 2316 1972 1544 1368 1447 1464 1459 1479 1587 1602
Cluff Lake 1626 27 - - - - - - -        
Total 11607 10458 11597 11628 9863 9477 9000 10173 9786 9145 8999 9331 9090
cf. World 36063 35613 40219 41595 39429 41279 43764 50684 53663 53494 58344 59370  


b. Data: company sources. Where an asterisk (*) is shown, the figures are from the World Nuclear Association Market Report. [Back]

c. Data: company sources. In Canadian figures resources do not include reserves and are reported in accordance with Canadian standard NI-43-101. [Back]

d. Average ore grades given as percentage of U3O8 in the ore. [Back]

e. The two parts of the project (Kiggavik and Sissons) are operated by Areva Resources Canada Inc.; Sissons was held 50% by Areva in joint venture with JCU (Canada) Exploration Co. Ltd. (48%) and Daewoo Corporation (2%); and Kiggavik itself was held 99% by Areva and 1% by Daewoo. However, in 2104 Mitsubishi showed 33.5% of Kiggavik being held by JCU, an equal three-way JV among Mitsubishi Corp, Itochu and OURD. [Back]

General sources

Uranium webpage on Natural Resources Canada website (
Cameco annual reports
Uranium in Saskatchewan series of fact sheets available on Cameco's website (
Areva Resources website (
Canadian Nuclear Association website (

Red Books:
Uranium 2007 - Resources, Production and Demand, OECD Nuclear Energy Agency and International Atomic Energy Agency, OECD Publishing, June 2008 (ISBN: 9789264047662)
Uranium 2009 - Resources, Production and Demand, OECD Nuclear Energy Agency and International Atomic Energy Agency, OECD Publishing, July 2010 (ISBN: 9789264047907)