Orano Mining
Corporate Social Responsibility
Report 2017
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Presence of mining activities around the world

Presence of mining activities around the world

Update on our activities in 2017


Orano Mining has been present in Canada for more than 50 years with different mining operations. Orano Canada's production comes from the McArthur River and Cigar Lake mines, operated by Cameco Corporation. These sites are located approximately 700 kilometers north of Saskatoon in Saskatchewan Province.

Usine de McClean lake - Canada

Orano Canada is continuing to conduct a major exploration program in this uranium-rich province, where it also holds majority interests in several deposits:

Cigar Lake

Composition de la joint-venture de Cigar Lake

Cigar Lake is owned by a joint-venture consisting of Cameco Corporation, Orano Canada Inc, Idemitsu Uranium Exploration Canada Ltd and TEPCO Resources Inc.

This deposit, the richest of its kind in the world, is operated by Cameco. The ore is processed in the McClean Lake mill, operated by Orano.

Orano discovered the deposit in 1981 and helped develop the mining method.

Given the deposit's location 450 meters beneath fractured, porous and water-saturated rock, and its high content, the deposit cannot be mined using conventional methods.

Freezing techniques are used to strengthen the ground and prevent water infiltration. The selected mining method involves removing the ore by high-pressure jet boring. The infrastructure galleries (equipment, boreholes for freezing and jet boring) are all located in the stronger rocks under the deposit.

The Cigar Lake mine and the McClean Lake mill have reached their full capacity with the production of 6,925 tU in 2017 (18 million lbs of U3O8).

McClean Lake

Orano Canada Inc operates McClean Lake and is a 70% owner alongside Denison Mines Ltd and Ourd (Overseas Uranium Resources Development Company Ltd of Japan).

Since 2014, the McClean Lake mill has been processing all of the ore from Cigar Lake. Designed to process very high-grade ore (> 15%), in 2016, the mill obtained a regulatory permit to increase annual production capacity to 24 million pounds (9,200 metric tons).

McArthur River

McArthur River is operated as a joint venture by Cameco Corporation. The McArthur River mine has, with Cigar Lake, the world’s largest production capacity.

The deposit was discovered in 1988 and mining began in December 1999. Located more than 600 meters below the surface, and in view of the very high grade uranium it contains, the deposit cannot be mined with conventional methods.

The miners are protected from direct contact with the ore by the use of special mechanical mining methods (raise boring and long hole stoping), and the ground is frozen to prevent water infiltration. The mined ore is processed at the Key Lake mill, about 80 kilometers south of the deposit.

The Key Lake mill is operated by Cameco Corporation, which holds an 83.33% interest (Orano Canada holds 16.67%). McArthur River and Key Lake have a capacity of 7,200 metric tons of uranium per year (18.7 million pounds of U3O8). In 2017, production reached 6,203 metric tons.

Since the end of January 2018, activities at the McArthur River mine and the Key Lake mill have been temporarily suspended due to the continually low price of uranium.

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In France, the main activities are related to those of the head office and managing the remediated former mining sites.

Today a total 234 sites are under Orano Mining's responsibility for monitoring.

Spread out over 25 departments, these sites were in operation between 1948 and 2001. Jouac, the last mine, closed in 2001. A number of activities were carried out at these former mining sites: exploration work, underground and open-pit mines, dismantled ore processing plants and 17 storage areas for uranium ore processing residues.


Gabon, the Compagnie des Mines d’Uranium de Franceville (COMUF), of which Orano Mining is the operator and principal shareholder, exploited uranium deposits in the region of Mounana until 1999. From 1999 to 2006, all of Mounana's mining and industrial sites, the quality of which has been approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), were completely remediated. Since then, COMUF has been responsible for their environmental monitoring, remediation and oversight of usage restrictions.


Katco was established in 1996 to develop and mine the Muyunkum and Tortkuduk deposits in southern Kazakhstan, approximately 250 kilometers north of Shymkent. The shareholders are Orano Mining and the Kazakh company KazAtomProm, the national producer of natural uranium.

ISR - Kazakhstan

Development of the two mining sites, located approximately 40 kilometers apart, started in April 2004 after the signature of agreements between the two shareholders. The technique selected was in situ recovery, in which the uranium is dissolved directly inside the rock.

In 2008, Katco obtained permission to increase production to 4,000 tU/year, a level which was reached in 2013 (3,519 metric tons produced in 2017).

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For more than 15 years, Orano Mining has successfully conducted mineral exploration operations in the Sainshand Basin at two sites, Dulaan Uul and Zuuvch Ovoo.

Since June 2017, the State of Mongolia, through the state-owned company Mon-Atom – under the supervision of the Commission of State Properties –, has taken a stake of 34% in the capital of Badrakh Energy. 66% of the shares are held by AREVA Mongol (itself a subsidiary 66% owned by Orano SA and 34% owned by Mitsubishi Corporation).

Badrakh Energy holds the mining licenses awarded in July 2016 for the Dulaan Uul and Zuuvch Ovoo deposits – discovered by Cogegobi, a 100%-owned subsidiary of Orano Mining – and in 2017 launched the pilot for Zuuvch Ovoo to confirm and improve the technical and economic conditions of the project and, eventually, at the end of the feasibility study, transform our resources into reserves.

The Group is pursuing exploration and development work in the Sainshand basin on the Dulaan Uul and Zuuvch Ovoo sites.

Site pilote Zouuvch Ovoo Site pilote Zuuvch Ovoo

1 the shareholders of AREVA Mongol are CFMM (100%-owned by Orano Mining) which holds a share of 66% and MITSUBISHI Corporation which holds a share of 34%..

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In Namibia, Orano Mining Namibia owns the whole of the Trekkopje deposit, as well as the Erongo water desalination plant with a capacity of 20 million m3/year, both located in the Swakopmund region. The worsening of conditions on the uranium market led Orano Mining Namibia to mothball the Trekkopje project in October 2012. The desalination plant is operating at 65% of its capacity and sells its production to the Namibian water corporation Namwater, which supplies water to the existing mines and to meet the needs of local communities.


Exploration teams from the Commissariat à l’énergie atomique (CEA, the French atomic energy commission) detected uranium in Niger at the end of the 1950s. The uraniferous area is located west of the Aïr granitic body. Close to 1,800 people work at Somaïr and Cominak, excluding subcontractors. Along with jobs, the operating companies provide health, social and educational services to the local communities in this isolated area.

Cominak and Somaïr have delivered uranium to their customers without interruption since operations began in the 1970s.

IMOURAREN SA also owns the Imouraren project, one of the world’s largest deposits (with 174,196 metric tons of uranium in reserves after application of the ore yield with a grade of 700 ppm).


Cominak (Compagnie Minière d’Akouta) is 34% owned by Orano Mining, which operates it. The other shareholders are Sopamin of Niger (31%), Ourd (25%), and Enusa Industrias Avanzadas SA of Spain (10%).

The ore, extracted underground, is then processed in the site’s mill, with a production capacity of approximately 1,400 metric tons of uranium per year (1,332 metric tons produced in 2017), given the current characteristics of the ore processed.

Galerie d'accès à la mine souterraine - Niger


Société des mines de l’Aïr (Somaïr, the mining company of the Aïr) was established in 1968. The company is operated by Orano Mining, which owns 63.4% of the share capital; the remaining 36.6% is held by Société du patrimoine des mines du Niger (Sopamin, the Nigerien government’s mining company).

Somaïr has operated several uranium deposits near the town of Arlit since 1971. The ore is extracted from open pit mines and heap leached or processed mechanically at the head end of the Arlit mill.

Given the current characteristics of the ore processed, the plant's production capacity is approximately 2,000 metric tons per year. (2,116 metric tons produced in 2017).

Mine à ciel ouvert de Tamgak - Niger


Located 80 kilometers south of Arlit, this deposit was discovered in 1966 and constitutes one of the largest deposits in the world today (reserves of 174,196 metric tons of uranium after recovery).

The Imouraren SA mining company was established, with Orano Expansion (86.5% CFMM and 13.5% KIUI) holding a 66.65% interest, and Sopamin, owned by the government of Niger, holding the remaining 33.35%.

In view of the current conditions on the uranium market, production startup work has been suspended.

The project will restart when uranium market conditions permit. A strategy committee set up by the State of Niger and Orano regularly reviews these conditions. Studies are currently in progress to see how the project can be optimized.

Engins miniers sur le site d'Imouraren - Niger