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No Port Hope impact as Cameco makes cuts: Director

By Valerie MacDonald, Northumberland Today

Cameco's fuel conversion operation has been given a new 10-year licence.
VALERIE MACDONALD/Northumberland Today file photo

Cameco's fuel conversion operation has been given a new 10-year licence. VALERIE MACDONALD/Northumberland Today file photo

PORT HOPE — Low uranium prices that are causing Cameco Corporation to suspend production at two Saskatchewan facilities will not impact Cameco’s uranium conversion plant in Port Hope, says Cameco’s director of external communications.

The local division is a major employer and has increased its workforce over the past few years making fuel for nuclear reactors.

“The temporary suspension of production at McArthur/Key Lake will not affect our fuel services operations,” Gord Struthers stated in an e-mail interview Wednesday night.

“We have sufficient inventory to sustain production at these (Port Hope) facilities through the suspension.”

Cameco, headquarted in Saskatoon, maintains a uranium conversion facility in Port Hope and a refinery in Blind River, in northern Ontario. The Port Hope facility employed 390 people as of 2015.

Earlier Wednesday, Cameco’s decision was made public to suspend the “world’s largest uranium mine” at McArthur River and a mill at Key Lake by the end of January.

The global uranium industry is in a six-year tailspin, dating back to the 2011 tsunami that caused Japan to shutter all of its nuclear reactors, some of which have since restarted.

The company also said it would cut its annual dividend to $0.08 per common share in 2018 from C$0.10 and temporarily reduced its workforce at the operations by about 845 workers. The operations’ current workforce is 1,055.

“With the continued state of oversupply in the uranium market and no expectation of change on the immediate horizon, it does not make economic sense for us to continue producing at McArthur River and Key Lake,” Cameco’s president and chief executive, Tim Gitzel, said in the published statement.


- with files from Reuters

vmacdonald@postmedia.com

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