Cameco cutting 500 jobs at Rabbit Lake uranium mine
Company says low commodity prices forces mining company to suspend Rabbit Lake operations
About 500 people are out of a job after Canadian uranium mining company Cameco, announced it's suspending production at Saskatchewan's longest-running uranium mine.
On Thursday, Cameco released a statement outlining its plans to suspend operations at its mine in Rabbit Lake, Sask., as well as scaling back production at Cameco Resources' U.S. operations.
Cameco CEO Tim Gitzel told said an oversupply of uranium has tanked the price per pound of uranium and the labour cuts are for the longterm sustainability of the company.
"The uranium market has been low for over five years. The price of uranium five years ago was $72 per pound U.S., this afternoon it was $26," Gitzel said. "The price per pound is nowhere near what we need it to be to restart or to think about starting any new ones up, so we're preparing for a lower-for-longer scenario."
The changes are expected to result in a labour reduction of 500 positions at the Rabbit Lake mine and about 85 jobs at its U.S. operations. Job cuts are expected to happen over the next four months, the company said.
Gitzel made the trip to Rabbit Lake on Thursday to announce the job cuts. He said the decisions didn't come easily.
The company said where possible, they will consider relocation options for employees to other Cameco facilities and job-sharing options to try and minimize the impact on its outgoing employees.
About 150 employees will stay at the mine to maintain the facilities, allowing the uranium-mining giant the option of resuming operations at the Rabbit Lake mine. Cameco said market conditions need to significantly improve before the mine goes back online.
Gitzel said the company believes there is still a supply of between 23 and 28 million kilograms of uranium at the Rabbit Lake mine.
"In a better market that mine could be coming around again," he said.
According to Cameco's website the Rabbit Lake mine is the world's second-largest uranium mill and the longest-running mine in North America. The mine opened in 1975, and employed about 600 people.
- A previous version of this story referenced the Cameco mine at Rabbit Lake was the largest uranium mine in North America. In fact, McArthur River is the world’s largest high-grade uranium mine.Apr 21, 2016 7:15 PM CT