Cameco says closing the Rabbit Lake mine was a tough call, but the mining giant doesn’t want anyone to think the decision has changed its attitude towards the uranium market.
Last week, the uranium mining company announced 500 workers in northern Saskatchewan will lose their jobs as a result of the Rabbit Lake closure. It also announced plans to curtail production at its US operations, affecting 85 positions there.
On Friday during the company’s conference call on first-quarter financial results, CEO Tim Gitzel fielded a question about what’s changed the tone for Cameco over the past three months.
“I don’t think there has been really. If it sounded like that it might have had to do with the difficult decision we had to take last week. That was tough for us, for all of us, anything that involves our people is a tough thing to do,” he said.
“I don’t think there’s a change in our tone, just that last week maybe was a tougher week for us and one that we had to do.”
He says the company needs to be conservative in its dealings, in the midst a market slump that has lasted longer than they’d expected.
The Rabbit Lake mine closure is one of many steps that Cameco is taking to tighten its belt, during a tough time for the uranium industry. Cameco has been dealing with the ‘fog of Fukushima’ for many years, as nuclear reactor start-ups in Japan have come a halt since the nuclear disaster in 2011.
Cameco is cutting back the production forecast in Macarthur River and Key Lake by two million pounds this year.
Overall, the company is decreasing its production forecast to 25.7 million pounds from the original forecast of 30 million for 2016.
Also, Cameco has been holding off on sales until the company can make a higher profit on them.
“Market activity in general was extremely light during the first quarter of this year. We simply didn’t see the kind of profitable opportunities that meet our requirements and until we do we won’t be selling those pounds,” Gitzel said.
Gitzel added that the uranium market isn’t paying well now, but they’re optimistic about the long-term payoffs.
Compared to a net loss of $9 million in the same quarter last year, Cameco’s net earnings were $78 million in 2016. But after adjustments, they’ve actually had a loss of $7 million this quarter.