Cameco forecasts new jobs, production at Saskatchewan mines

In a second quarter earnings update, the Saskatchewan-based uranium producer reported $84 million in net earnings. However, the possible addition of 180 jobs in northern Saskatchewan might be more meaningful to residents of the province.

Quarterly earnings report touts new contracts, more jobs at McArthur River/Key Lake facilities

Cameco's McArthur River uranium mine is set to reopen after sitting dormant for more than three years. (Cameco/Supplied)

Saskatchewan's uranium giant is expecting to add more northern Saskatchewan jobs and more cash to its bottom line this year.

Saskatoon-based Cameco, one of the largest uranium producers in the world, has issued its second quarter earnings report. It shows the company brought in $84 million in net earnings over a three-month period. According to president and CEO Tim Gitzel, the market has been positive in 2022.

"We are benefiting from higher average realized prices in both our uranium sales and our fuel services sales as the market continues to transition and geopolitics continue to highlight concentration of supply concerns," he said in a news release issued Wednesday morning.

The release notes that the company has boosted its long-term uranium sales contracts this quarter and in May increased its ownership stake in the Cigar Lake mine in northern Saskatchewan. It now owns more than 54 per cent of the joint venture, which is co-owned by Orano Canada, a subsidiary of a French nuclear energy company, and TEPCO Resources, part of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings.

More jobs, production coming to Sask mines

Cameco's update also outlined plans to increase "operational readiness" at its McArthur River mine and Key Lake processing plant. After experiencing some delays upgrading and integrating those facilities, it intends to resume mining operations later in 2022. 

"We have adjusted our schedule to accommodate these delays and anticipate first production will be deferred to later in the fourth quarter," Gitzel said. 

That could mean increasing the number of workers and long-term contractor positions to 850 from 670 once operations resume.

Russian conflict worrisome

There was one note of caution in Cameco's earnings report.

It holds 40 per cent of Inkai, a joint venture that operates a uranium mine in Kazakhstan in partnership with a company called Kazatomprom (in which the government of Kazakhstan owns a majority interest). Inkai has been attempting to find alternate ways to ship its product to Cameco's refinery in Blind River, Ont., the largest commercial uranium refinery in the world, without using Russian rail lines and ports. 

According to the news release, the delays resulting from those efforts mean Cameco hasn't taken any deliveries from Inkai in 2022. If the joint venture can't deliver on its obligations, that could affect Cameco's earnings and dividends.