Cameco is winding down uranium production at Cigar Lake mine due to COVID-19.

Orano said its McLean Lake processing mill will follow Cameco.

The two sites will be placed in care and maintenance for at least the next four weeks.

“We are in unprecedented and challenging times,” said Cameco President and CEO Tim Gitzel. “In the face of great uncertainty, our first priority is to protect the health and well-being of our employees, their families and their communities. Our leadership team took a measured approach and weighed many factors in assessing the situation both globally and locally to make this decision, which takes into account the specific and unique circumstances at Cigar Lake, a remote, isolated fly-in/fly-out northern Saskatchewan operation.”

This decision will affect approximately 260 staff at Cigar Lake, as only 35 employees will remain.

Cameco said it will consult with health officials on how to get workers home safely.

“We are all in this together,” said Orano Canada Inc. President and CEO Jim Corman. “Our operations work in tandem, and our communities are all interconnected. This is a difficult time for many, and we understand the concerns we are hearing. McClean Lake will safely be put into care and maintenance within the next few days and we will continue to assess the situation, always keeping health and safety at the forefront.”

Cameco said the production suspension will affect the 2020 outlook, but that it is too soon to know what that is.

“During this time, Cameco will assess the status of the situation and determine whether to restart the mine or extend the care and maintenance period,” explained Cameco.