McArthur River mine. Photo courtesy of cameco.com.
Cameco is planning to reduce its workforce at the McArthur River, Key Lake and Cigar Lake operations by about 10 per cent in the coming months, affecting 120 employees in total.
The company says the reduction is planned to be conducted in stages and expected to be completed by the end of May.
Cameco says affected employees will be offered exit packages that include transition assistance.
The company says the actions are intended to further reduce costs and improve efficiency at its uranium mining operations.
Cameco also plans to implement changes to the air commuter service by which employees and contract workers get to and from the mine and mill sites in northern Saskatchewan, as well as work schedule changes to achieve additional cost savings. The company says these changes will begin in April 2017 and are expected to be completed during 2018.
Cameco spokesman Gord Struthers says the changes include the dropping of pick up points at Beauval, La Loche and Ile a la Crosse. Workers from those communities are going to have to make their way to Buffalo Narrows or La Ronge in order to catch flights to the mine sites. Struthers says the change will affect roughly 100 employees from those communities.
"We regret the impact of these decisions on affected employees and other stakeholders," said president and CEO, Tim Gitzel, in a release. "These are necessary actions to take in a uranium market that has remained weak and oversupplied for more than five years. While it is positive that we are starting to see other producers announce their intent to reduce supply, we have not yet seen an actual reduction in supply. Ultimately, it will be the return of both term demand and term contracting in a significant way that will signal that market fundamentals have turned more positive. While we expect that this demand and term contracting will come to the market at some point, it has not yet happened. These operational changes are part of our strategy to help us effectively manage the company through these low times and remain competitive, while positioning the company to benefit as the market improves."
The workforce reduction and changes to air commuter service and work schedules planned at the Saskatchewan operations are not expected to impact production in 2017.
Cameco previously announced a four-week shutdown at the McArthur River, Key Lake and Cigar Lake operations slated for this summer.
Weak uranium prices forced Cameco to suspend production at its Rabbit Lake mine and mill last year, affecting 500 workers.
The company also reduced its workforce at its Saskatoon head office by 10 per cent.