Photo courtesy

As Cameco reports its second-quarter financials today, two of its largest operations are at a standstill.

A six-week summer shutdown is in place at Key Lake and McArthur River, all as part of cost-saving measures that CEO Tim Gitzel says will show long-term benefits. As for the next quarter, he expects production costs per unit to rise because of the two-week maintenance period that will take place in mid-August after the four-week mandatory summer holiday period.

“It’s something we haven’t tried recently, and we go into things like that a bit tentative because there’s a lot of organization that goes into it,” Gitzel told MBC during its second-quarter conference call.

After a visit up north last week, he said things are off to a good start.

“Very quiet on the site. We’ve got a skeleton crew as we call it, just looking after things. Weather’s been very good up there so we’re hoping people get some good vacation and good rest… because we’re going to need them to work hard when they come back in August,”

The uranium mining giant has a net loss of $2 million this quarter. During the conference, Gitzel announced that Cameco has officially settled an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) dispute in the United States that dates back between 2009 and 2012 in which the company stood to lose $122 million as a proposed tax expense. Instead, Cameco has to pay only a fraction of that, at $122,000.

However, Gitzel is hesitant to say how this relates to the Canada Revenue Agency tax battle that’s before the courts right now. He did say “it’s possible at any time to come to a settlement” with the CRA dispute, which will go to final arguments in court in September.

Cameco is also congratulating 34-year employee and former senior vice-president and Chief Operating Officer Bob Stein for his retirement and welcoming new COO Brian Reilly who took over at the start of June.

The mining giant initiated a number of cost-saving measures in the past eight months, all meant to weather tough times in the uranium market. Earlier this year, Cameco wound down its Rabbit Lake mine, cut its workforce by 10 per cent, and ended its American operations.