An exploration camp at Cameco Corp.’s Millennium uranium project, one of several under development by the Saskatoon-based mining company.
Cameco Corp. / Saskatoon
Canada’s largest uranium mining company says the federal government’s proposed environmental assessment legislation will add time and uncertainty to the process of getting new projects approved.While Cameco Corp. recently put the brakes on its uranium developments in Saskatchewan and Australia in the face of persistently weak prices, the company maintains that new supply will eventually be needed.When that happens, Cameco CEO Tim Gitzel said, Bill C-69 — which will subject uranium miners to what the Canadian Mining Association has called the “additional hurdle” of a full panel review — will add time and uncertainty.“Time is cost for us (and) there’s some uncertainty as to, if you go through all of that process, what if it doesn’t come out the back end? Then you’ve really wasted a lot of time and effort,” Gitzel said Thursday in an interview.Introduced last year, C-69 would overhaul the environmental review process for major projects across the country. It passed through the House of Commons in June, and is now being considered by a Senate of Canada committee.Western Canada’s energy sector and conservative politicians have been among its most vocal opponents, but many Saskatchewan mining companies are also against it, largely due to concerns about increased uncertainty.Asked whether had any indication why uranium is treated differently in C-69, Gitzel said he did not but suggested it could have to do with its use in nuclear power. He said Cameco’s mines are “no different” from other mines.“We think it’s covered there already,” he said, referring to existing provincial and federal regulations.Cameco has three major uranium projects that could eventually be developed into mines: Millennium, which is in northern Saskatchewan, and Yeelirrie and Kintyre, both of which are located in Western Australia.At the same time, the company — and the industry more generally — has scaled back exploration and development expenses as prices, which tanked following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, remain well below 2011 levels.While Gitzel previously acknowledged that Cameco is a long way from needing greenfield uranium developments, he said Thursday that C-69 “won’t help” when the rising demand it expects creates a need for new supply.While regulations are only one consideration for a company looking to build a new mine, C-69 could lead the uranium industry to “think about where they want to invest their capital going forward,” Gitzel said.“This won’t be helpful.”email@example.com/macphersonaRelated