All mining operations within Saskatchewan, Canada, had been known for being discovered within the early 1900's, when gold and silver was first discovered. By this time many mining operations had already came to life and would also discover the first uranium ore in 1935. As these discoveries became further uncovered it soon be came noted that Saskatoon was home to a major staking rush in Canadian History. More so the first mines to come into production had been commonly reported to be discovered in Uranium City, in 1953. These large scale producing mine would lead to other discoveries like the uranium deposit at Rabbit Lake in 1968.or the one at Cluff Lake in 1969, or perhaps the Key Lake in 1975, and Midwest Lake discovery of 1978. Further so these discoveries had soon establish a new geological formation that was identiftied as the Athabasca Basin. This geological area was soon home to many uranium mine discovery zones that became uncovered. When 1981 had rolled in the area would be further prospected for its rich uranium material. Most of this prospecting procedure was commonly being done by a geologist that was working for France's Areva SA, which became one of the minority owners of this mining operation. By this time period the geologist himself would decide to form his own company which became incorporated into the Eldorado Nuclear Limited. These two massive corperate owners would also merge with the Saskatchewan Mining Corperation to form the Cameco Corporation who now owned half of this property. Government approval was soon given to the company to commence a full scale test mine that was establish by Cigar Lake in 1987. Most of these testing procedures became started when the Cameco Corporation was aiming at determining the anomalies within this mining zone. More exploration procedures had taken place from 1982 to 1986, as holes became drilled until 2002 for geotechnical studies. Nevertheless, the Cameco Corporation would conduct a series of 406 surface holes that became drilled to outline the distance of this ore-body. Company officials from the Cameco Corporation soon had also driven 222 holes that became assayed to determined the rock mass characteristics. These core samples alone became obtained from different location underground and had been completed by 2002. Another major event soon had escalated when the company encounter a uranium discovery zone at 1,345 feet, and another one at 1,476 feet below ground levels. Company officails would also develop this mine as a non entry mine as Jet boring mining methods will be used in this production. Within 1987 the Cameco Corporation was now developing its first shaft that would reach a depth of 1, 643 feet by 2002. Before this could all happen the company ran into other problem when it first encounter a meter of mud that made this development very challenging. Most of these challenges came to place when the corporation couldn't even get its cage down because there was that much mud stopping it. Never to say the company was also developing another shaft operation that would become determined as the No. 2 shaft. Its location was being engineer and constructed at another lake that was determined as Midwest Lake. The Cigar Lake MIne has its own estimation of 537,500 tons of uranium reserves, that includes proven reserves of 233,600 tons, and probable reserves of more than 303,500 tons of uranium. However, the deposit, which according to Cameco has 117.5 million pounds of uranium that average 17.84%, and is also believe to be one of the most technically challenge mine to operate.
One of the first employees who was employed within this mining zone was known as Ed Gagnon, that was first hired by the company on May, 6, 1987. He reported that the company had flown him into this operation six days later on a beautiful morning as the sun was shining at the time. At the time the company it self had not made a full scale airport landing strip as the runway was mainly made from gravel. From this point on the main mine manger had drove Ed Gagnon to the mine site on an old dirt road trail that was made by the company. Mr. Gagnon had stated that it was his first time seeing the mine site camp area that included three buildings, a generator building, and another building. Soon enough the mine manger had shown Mr. Gagnon to his corridor as it was made from three tents at the time. Mr. Gagnon him self did not know that he would be sleeping in a tent for the first little bit while being employed by the company.
By 1990, the No. 1 shaft operation was officially completed and sunken to the depth of 1,643 feetl of the Cigar Lake Mine Project, This development alone became mined using more serious mining methods that included Jet Boring procedures. During this time period the mine would also consist of two producing levels that became stationed and cut on the mines 1,574 and 1,640 foot sections. All mining operations within the Cigar Lake Mine are being establish on the mines 1,574 foot level that is known to be located 82 feet below the ore zone. As development continued the company would additionally install all the underground processingm and infrastructure facilities to operate this mine within this level. Further development would also open the 1,640 foot level when it was being used as a ventilation for the underground workings. Generally this whole entire exhaust drift would be accessed by a ramp that connected this level with the 1,574 foot level. The Mine it self is located about 660 kilometers north of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, and is known to be owned by the Cameco Corperation. Further so the mining operation is listed as the second largest high-grade uranium deposit after Cameco's McArthur River Mine project.
Site perperation work continued at Cigar Lake Mine in 2003, and had included its very own partial construction of the No. 2 shaft, and the pouring of the foundation for the head-frame and hoist room. Another set back had soon occurred in 2002, when the company did not receive the licencing for phase two yet. This licencing approval for the second and final phase of construction is not expected to be obtained till 2004. More so the company would estimate the total construction time that would end up taking 27 months to complete phase No. 2. During this time the company would also set their own time frame as it was hoping to have this mining operation in production by 2006. More so this whole entire development would end up costing the company $350 Million just to complete this project during this time period. Nevertheless, this whole entire project had included upgrading the Cigar Lake Runway, adding its own addition to the airport apron area, the development of a new terminal building, and the construction of a new Airport Generator Building.
Almost all construction procedure within the Cigar Lake Mine became commenced in 2005, but would be suspended after floods had flooded the main workings in 2006 and 2008. This whole entire mining operation would all change on October,23, 2006, when some of the rock gave away, and the mining operation began filling in with water faster then Cameco could pump it out. Company officials from the Cameco Corporation would desperately try to contain the flooding by closing two bulkhead doors. But never to say one of them had failed to close properly, and its own operation became completely flooded. More so it was strongly believed that Cameco had made a crucial mistake as it drilled and blasted way to close to the unstable sandstone in the Athabasca Basin. By this time the company had fractured the main workings when the rock on the roof started to chip and break apart. But another thing that the company had not realize was how fast this water would come in, and how much pumping capacity was needed to get it out. Further so the flood of the mine working was rather a huge setback, but Cameco was rather like a pro when it came to dealing with these floodings. Its main procedure would be aimed at plugging off the opening, pumping in concrete, and de-watering the mine for the first time. Much of this whole entire de-watering procedure would begin in 2008 when the company was ready to commence operation. But after a few weeks the company face another problem when the water was once again rising. Nevertheless, the company it self came to more obstacles when it had no idea where this water was coming from. Company officials from the Cameco Corporation did not believe that this water was coming from the same location as the flood that happen in 2006, but it also couldn't be to certain either. So in addition the company ended up hiring a company that developed remote control submarines These subs became deployed into the mine by remote controls that we're being controlled on the surface of this mining operation. The company referred this procedure like a video game as the subs had drove around to detect water flows, and radiation. Soon enough the company and Cameco would uncover where the water was coming in from as it was located at a total different section from the 2006 flood. By this time the impressive Cameco had other ideas when it would seal this section of with concrete that was rather describe as a huge bread bag by Mr. Gitzel. Almost all of the procedure was done by another contracted firm known as the Peterson Products Company. Nevertheless, the company would fill these holes with concrete as it stop the inflow of water that was coming into the mining operation at the first level. After experiencing two floods the company was not taking any more chance when it decided to plug this whole section off with concrete. When this procedure became finish the company would now commence its own dewatering phases that would take 12 months to complete, and only then the company will tell when mining operation will continue again. Tron power had also provided construction services for the Cigar Lake Mine during this time period. These services would included underground electrical construction, maintenance, a jet boring project, and a foundation for the water treatment plant and piping. The contract for planning, procurement, construction, fabrication, and field construction of Cigar Lake Mine was also awarded to Canonbie. These development procedures would also included the excavation and construction of two new ponds, and one secondary containment tank area. It would also include its very own installation of emergency mine water, fresh water, and the pipelines for the waste water that came from underground.
More construction procedures had also taken place in 2007, that included the construction of the Ore Load-Out Building. It soon became evident that the company would mainly design this facility in order to provide storage and handling of the ore slurry that came from the Cigar Lake Uranium Mine in Northern Saskatchewan, Canada. As the ore slurry becomes placed within this storage facility, its than transported onto transport trucks to be shipped to McClean Lake and Rabbit Lake Mills. Much of this shipping is rather delivered at a distance of 70 kilometer from the actual mine site as it goes in for further processing procedures. Within 2012, a contract that was worth 14.23 million dollars was further expanding this Ore Load Out building. Further so the contract would entitle the much of need installations of 75 pieces of machinery that was needed to operate this facility. Some of the much need components that became installed would included pumps that acted as a way to wash Water Receivers, the installation procedure of four tanks that also included a 10 meter diameter field erected thickener tank, more than 13,000 linear feet of piping, and 90,000 linear feet of wiring that connected with 25,000 termination points. This whole entire contract was also being done by a separate company known as the Points Athabasca, and would be completed by February, 2012.
By 2010, the whole entire Cigar Lake Mine shafts were finally dewatered to the mines 1,643 foot level. As this became achieved the company would now place this mine under suspension as it was being cleaned up, inspected, re-assessed, and all the underground workings had been secured. Another phase was shortly after taken up when the company implemented its very own surface freezing strategy that was believed to have shorten the rampup period for this project. This would also provide a short suspension period that would bring this production to life faster. It also became very evident as the freezing would stop the inflow of water that was associated from the sandstone within Athabasca Basin formation. More so the Cameco Corporation had no choice but to freeze the mine as the water would ruin all the workings like it did in 2006 and 2008. During this time period Cameco, Areva, Idemitsu, and TEPCO had also developed a way in freezing the ore-body, and the surrounding rocks before mining it. As this procedure became adapted it was soon being establish when the companies commenced drilling phase of several holes from the surface, and its underground mine workings. As this procedure became completely constructed it would then be filled with a Brine solution within the targeted areas. Once the super cooled brine enters the mine it will then freeze the ore-body and the surrounding rock to eliminate the inflow of water. Nevertheless, the companies would than place a high pressured water jet boring system that's drilled from down below, and melts the ore into a slurry formation that's collected in the tunnel.
The mine it self is commonly known to contribute a lot of different challenges towards the operation levels of the Cigar Lake Uranium Mine. Most of these areas that poses these challenges are known to come from weak rock formations, water inflow, the control of ground water, surface and underground fires, regulatory approvals, and many other challenges that come with this operation.
More development procedures would soon commence when the Cameco Corporation would further expand the construction of this operation. Almost all of this constructing would take place in 2011, when the company was building the much need foundation for its pump room and clarifier. Generally this whole entire area was mainly reported to have been engineered from concrete and steel.
By 2014, the Cameco Corporation, and its partners would officially commence ore production from the mining zone when it was now ready to come into production. It also became reported that the companies have estimated this production to be in full operating phases by 2018.