After a 10-year tailspin created by the nuclear tragedy that was Fukushima, the uranium business is back and thriving.
That’s the message from Tim Gitzel, the CEO of Saskatchewan-based uranium provider Cameco. He spoke about the company’s successful year in 2023, with $844 million in revenue earned in quarter four, up from $524 million a year earlier.
He also touched on the newfound importance of nuclear energy as Canada attempts to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
“It’s carbon-free, there are no carbon emissions, and the waste? I know people talk about it. I can show you every spoonful of waste from a nuclear reactor around the world. It doesn’t go up in the air in a poof of smoke…that’s the beauty of it. There are no CO2 emissions that come from it, which are the main cause of global warming,” Gitzel explains.
He says the province is looking at utilizing Small Modular Reactors in an effort to cut carbon emissions.
“We’ll support them on that (and) give them whatever information (they need). We hope to be able to supply the fuel for it if they’re interested. We’re very positive on nuclear for Saskatchewan.
Gitzel says at the pace the company is moving, Saskatchewan can expect more jobs to be created in the coming years.
“We’re hiring all the time. We have retirements. Just a normal turnover, when you have (a workforce of) 3000 people, is probably a couple hundred people a year…We’ll see as we start moving along with these SMR developments what that brings to the company and the province.”
Looking forward, the company looks to do some development work at its Cigar Lake mine in order to extend its life until 2036. They will also study whether or not production at the McArthur Lake mine should ramp up from 18 million to 25 million pounds.
Production for 2024 is expected to total 22.4 million pounds of uranium.