Miners at Cigar Lake, Sask., marked a milestone Monday, as they began water jet boring into underground deposits of uranium.
Cigar Lake is the world's richest undeveloped uranium deposit. The project 660 kilometres north of Saskatoon is operated by Cameco, which has a 50 per cent stake in the mine.
The mine is expected to employ 250 people once full production begins.
Officials at Cameco say miners are using high-powered jets of water to remove uranium ore from underground shafts. Right now, miners are using that ore to test thickening and grinding equipment, which will be used to treat the uranium before it's sent above-ground as a slurry.
Development of the flood-prone deposits underground stalled in October 2006, with flood waters inundating some of the project after a rock fall. The flooding set back production five years, as crews tried to find ways to stop water inflows.
"Commissioning in ore for the underground mining and process equipment continues," said Cameco officials in a news release today. "Cameco is on track to begin ore production at Cigar Lake during the first quarter of 2014."
Uranium ore from Cigar Lake will be trucked 70 kilometres east, to Areva's mill at McClean Lake.
Areva owns 37 per cent of Cigar Lake. Tepco Resources Limited and Idemitsu Canada Resources Limited own five and eight per cent stakes in the project, respectively.