MAC: Mines and Communities

Canadian uranium: Cameco costs climbing; fury at company claims

Published by MAC on 2008-09-22

Tailings facility under scrutiny

Cassandra Kyle, Saskatchewan News Network,

The Leader-Post

18th September 2008

SASKATOON -- The tailings facility at Cameco Corp.'s Key Lake uranium mill in northern Saskatchewan came under scrutiny Wednesday by an environmental group speaking at a public Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) hearing in Saskatoon.

The Saskatchewan Environmental Society (SES) believes the Deilman Tailings Management Facility at the mill isn't safe and therefore operations at Key Lake should be suspended until the problem is fixed. Loose sand from the walls of the tailings facility had been falling into the tailings pit, a process also known as sloughing, says the company in a document prepared for the CNSC hearing. The last sloughing incident took place in November, 2005, it noted, and steps have since been taken to stabilize and secure the walls.

Ann Coxworth, SES program co-ordinator, is concerned the sloughing compromises the ability of the tailings pit to contain harmful materials.

"Because the pit is collapsing in that way, it's really hard to guarantee that the contaminants in that pit will not end up in the groundwater," she said in an interview before presenting the society's concerns to the CNSC Wednesday afternoon.

"In the long run, if we get radioactive contamination into groundwater, that could find its way into surface water and wells," Coxworth added. "(Then) there are all sorts of health impacts that come from radiation and include cancer and mutogenic damage. This is the kind of thing that could happen way off into the future."

The society recommended the commission, which is holding the hearings on Cameco's applications for operating licence renewals at its MacArthur River, Key Lake and Rabbit Lake operations, limit Cameco's licence renewals to every two years instead of every five, increase the company's post-decommissioning bond at Key Lake to $200 million, require Cameco to post signs warning future generations that they should not go near or dig at the waste site and ensure the company monitors the waste management site and take responsibility for the waste for at least the next 100 years.

Cameco's president and CEO Jerry Grandey dismissed the society's concerns, saying the long-term integrity of the tailings facility remains unaffected by the sloughing. While welcoming the input of public citizens at the hearings, Grandey said the society's recommendations likely won't affect the company.

Operating licence terms, he said, are "somewhat artificial," as the company is constantly monitored by the CNSC and other regulatory bodies.

"I don't think shortening the licence term does anything more than make extra work for people and frankly a lot of extra paperwork, and I'd rather save the trees," he said.

The Key Lake facility is safe, he said, adding company ethics, the CNSC and the provincial government wouldn't allow Cameco to continue work at the site if there was a problem.

Grandey doubts the issues raised by the SES about Key Lake, along with additional environmental concerns about Cameco facilities discussed by other public groups, will have much of an impact on the commission when they decide whether to renew Cameco's operating licences.

"I'd say it (environmental issues) is important, but I would offer that it's probably not important enough," he said. "The commission and other agencies have tended to focus more on technical aspects of the mining operation and the impact on the environment and health and safety."

The president and CEO says he's confident the licences will be renewed.

Today's CNSC hearings, the second of the commission's two days in Saskatoon, will cover Cameco's application for an operating licence renewal at its Rabbit Lake facility. Canadian Light Source Inc. also has a hearing regarding an operating licence for its particle accelerator.

Cameco's Port Hope Remediation To Cost $50-55 million

Canadian Press

17th September 2008

Cameco Corp. (CCO) said Tuesday that total remediation costs at its Port Hope, Ont., nuclear conversion plant will cost $50-55 million. The company said about $20 million will be expensed and the remainder capitalized.

Cameco expects total remediation costs to be $50 to $55 million of which approximately $20 million (including $17 million incurred in 2007) will be expensed and the remainder capitalized.
Cameco said the money was used to investigate the possibility that uranium, arsenic and fluorides may have seeped into Lake Ontario, rehabilitate the plant and install a system of wells that collect impacted groundwater.

The company also made a number of improvements inside the plant, including replacement of large sections of the ground floor and application of chemical-resistant coatings to all floors, as well as removal of some contaminated soil from under the building.

Cameco said the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission recently approved its plan to restart the plant after the July 2007 discovery that material had leaked through the floor of the plant into soil and groundwater.
"After the CNSC accepted our plan to restart production, we began the final phase of putting the plant back into operation," Andy Oliver, vice-president of Cameco's fuel services division.

"Since the plant has been shut down for over a year, we have been following a cautious, thorough approach to restart in order to ensure it happens properly and safely."

Cameco said it has sufficient hydrofluoric acid to resume operations at a reduced rate that will allow production to continue for about a month, but its sole supplier of has terminated its long-term supply contract with the company.

The company said it was working to resolve the matter and is seeking alternate supply sources.


Frontenac News

11th September 2008

Chief Doreen Davis is furious over "MNR drops charges against Gemmill's, Frontenac Ventures" published Thursday, September 4 by Jeff Green, editor of the Frontenac News. The article refers to statements made by George White, President of Frontenac Ventures Corporation that he is "... in the midst of negotiations aimed at signing a memorandum of understanding with the Shabot Obaadjiwan and Snimikobe First Nations regarding the company's test drilling program which is set to commence soon".

"We are not...I repeat the midst of negotiating an MOU with Frontenac Ventures and we are nowhere near agreeing to any drilling program on our lands," said an angry Chief Davis. "I do not know what planet George White is living on but we have made it very very clear to the Government of Ontario and to Frontenac Ventures that we will not discuss any agreement on drilling unless and until the issue of lands that have been withdrawn in the staked area are resolved" said the Chief.

In June of this year Frontenac Ventures forfeited a significant portion of their claims in the proposed drilling area for failing to file activity reports as required by the Mining Act and Regulations.

"As far as we are concerned, Frontenac Ventures has no rights on the lands any more and the Court Order permitting them to drill no longer exists" said Chief Davis. "Only the Minister of Mines can reinstate these withdrawn lands and we have categorically stated to the Minister that the lands are not to be reinstated. This issue is now political. It may be very difficult for me to stop the floodgates from opening and Shabot members going back on the land" said an angry Davis. Shabot War Chief Earl Badour Sr. expressed concern about how such a statement by White and a breach of confidence in the consultations with the Algonquin communities would be interpreted. "Misguided and false statements such as this do not serve to keep consultations on track" said Badour Sr. who has participated in the consultations. "We are not negotiating an MOU with Frontenac. To say this is clearly a breach of good faith," said the War Chief. "I am very concerned that such disrespect for the consultation process and the Algonquin communities will lead to a reoccupation of the lands by Shabot community members and other Algonquin and First Nation communities. This is a very serious matter which I, as war Chief, may have no ability to control," said Badour Sr.

The Algonquins of Ontario have selected the impugned lands for "Nation Lands" in the land claim process as well as community development lands for the Shabot Obaadjiwan and Snimikobe First Nations. "We want to protect and preserve these extremely significant and environmentally sensitive lands for everyone" said Davis. "We will not permit a uranium mine on these lands and this is an issue that Ontario and Canada are going to have to come to grips with," stated the Chief.

"As of today, we have called off discussions with Frontenac Ventures and will not attend any consultation sessions with them until further notice. We will continue our discussions with the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines in the hope that this matter can be resolved peacefully," said Chief Davis.

Home | About Us | Companies | Countries | Minerals | Contact Us
© Mines and Communities 2013. Web site by Zippy Info