Key Lake mine

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Key Lake mine
Location
Key Lake mine is located in Saskatchewan
Key Lake mine
Key Lake mine
Location in Saskatchewan
Location Athabasca Basin
Province Saskatchewan
Country Canada
Coordinates 57°12′24″N 105°39′33″W / 57.20667°N 105.65917°W / 57.20667; -105.65917Coordinates: 57°12′24″N 105°39′33″W / 57.20667°N 105.65917°W / 57.20667; -105.65917
Production
Products Uranium
Owner
Company Cameco(83%) and AREVA(17%)

The Key Lake mine is a former uranium mine in Saskatchewan, Canada, and the site of the largest uranium mill in the world. It is five-hundred and seventy kilometres north of Saskatoon by air on the southern rim of the uranium-rich Athabasca Basin. Key Lake was initially developed to open-pit mine two nearby uranium ore deposits: the Gaertner deposit and the Deilmann deposit. Mining of this ore ceased in the late 1990s; the Key Lake mill now processes uranium ore from the McArthur River mine and from existing stockpiles on site. High-grade ore from McArthur river is blended with lower grade local rock before being passed through the mill. The mill has an annual production capacity of 18 million pounds of U3O8. In addition, ammonium sulfate fertilizer is produced as a byproduct from used reagents. The pits of the mined out local deposits are being used as mill tailings management facilities.

It deposits jointly remain one of the higher grade uranium deposits ever discovered, at an average grade of over 2% U3O8. Key Lake is the third largest uranium deposit in the Athabasca Basin and is surpassed only by McArthur River and Cigar Lake.

Much of the exploration and development work was carried out by Uranerz Exploration and Mining, a company linked with German utility operators.[citation needed] The ore body was discovered by tracing radioactive boulders in the overburden back to their source.[citation needed]

The nearest village by road is Pinehouse, 220 kilometres south of Key Lake. The mine is considered the official northern terminus of Saskatchewan Highway 914, as reflected by provincial highway maps, although online mapping such as Google Maps suggest the highway continues on to another mine, McArthur River, further to the north.

History[edit]

Key Lake Deposits
Name Discovered Commenced Depleted Comments
Gaertner 1975 1983 1987
Dielmann 1976 1989 1997 Ore stockpiled to mix with and dilute high-grade McArthur River ore. The open pit is used as a tailings management facility for McArthur River ore.

Production[edit]

Together, between 1983 and 1997 the two Key lake deposits produced 4.08 million tonnes of ore at an average grade of 2.32% U3O8 (for a total of 208 million pounds U3O8 produced).[citation needed] The mill currently produces 18.7 million pounds of yellowcake per year.

Ownership[edit]

The Key Lake operation is owned by Cameco Corporation (83%) and AREVA Resources Canada Inc (17%), formerly COGEMA Resources Inc. Cameco is the operator.

Climate[edit]

Climate data for Key Lake
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 10
(50)
9
(48)
12.5
(54.5)
28.5
(83.3)
32.5
(90.5)
34.5
(94.1)
33.5
(92.3)
36
(97)
28.5
(83.3)
24.5
(76.1)
12.2
(54)
5
(41)
36
(97)
Average high °C (°F) −17.7
(0.1)
−12.5
(9.5)
−4.5
(23.9)
4.4
(39.9)
13
(55)
19.3
(66.7)
21.8
(71.2)
19.9
(67.8)
12.3
(54.1)
3.9
(39)
−7.6
(18.3)
−15.5
(4.1)
3.1
(37.6)
Daily mean °C (°F) −23.2
(−9.8)
−18.4
(−1.1)
−11.4
(11.5)
−1.7
(28.9)
6.9
(44.4)
13.4
(56.1)
16.1
(61)
14.5
(58.1)
7.9
(46.2)
0.3
(32.5)
−11.7
(10.9)
−20.4
(−4.7)
−2.3
(27.9)
Average low °C (°F) −28.6
(−19.5)
−24.3
(−11.7)
−18.2
(−0.8)
−7.8
(18)
0.7
(33.3)
7.4
(45.3)
10.4
(50.7)
9
(48)
3.4
(38.1)
−3.3
(26.1)
−15.6
(3.9)
−25.3
(−13.5)
−7.7
(18.1)
Record low °C (°F) −51.5
(−60.7)
−48
(−54)
−50.5
(−58.9)
−40
(−40)
−15.5
(4.1)
−5
(23)
0
(32)
−2
(28)
−8.5
(16.7)
−28
(−18)
−39.5
(−39.1)
−48
(−54)
−51.5
(−60.7)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 19.1
(0.752)
16.7
(0.657)
20.6
(0.811)
26.3
(1.035)
38.3
(1.508)
63.2
(2.488)
85.2
(3.354)
68.9
(2.713)
56.7
(2.232)
38.4
(1.512)
26.7
(1.051)
21.1
(0.831)
481.1
(18.941)
Source: Environment Canada[1]

Wolf attack[edit]

A lone wolf attacked fifty-five-year-old Fred Desjarlais who was jogging back to the mine's camp on December 31, 2004. Desjarlais tried to frighten the wolf away, but it continued approach and finally jumped on him. He grabbed the wolf around the neck and tried to wrestle it into submission. A busload of his Cameco colleagues spotted the incident and rescued him. The wolf subsequently disappeared into the wilderness. Desjarlais received stitches when his colleagues took him to a nearby medical facility. A few hours later, an air ambulance took Desjarlais to Royal University Hospital where he began a series of rabies treatments. After the attack on Desjarlais, governmental authorities built an electric fence around Key Lake's landfill to prevent further predatory animal attacks on miners.[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]