Cameco says it is now mining ore at Cigar Lake. (Cameco)

Cameco is now mining and shipping uranium at its long-delayed Cigar Lake mine in northern Saskatchewan.

The Saskatoon-based company said Thursday that ore production has begun at the site, which has been slow getting off the ground after a catastrophic flood in 2006.

Ore is being transported to the McClean Lake mill, located 70 kilometres to the northeast, which is operated by AREVA Resources Canada Inc., a minority owner of the mine.

When the mine is in full production in 2018, it's expected it will be producing 18 million pounds of uranium concentrate a year. 

The uranium deposit at Cigar Lake is expected to be one of the richest in the world, but getting to this point hasn't been cheap — as of late last year, the capital costs were around $2.6 billion.

The mine will employ about 600 people, Cameco said.

Investors welcomed news of the first production at Cigar Lake. Cameco stock closed the trading day at an almost three-year high on Thursday. The shares closed at $27.63, up 72 cents.