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Cameco Cites Poor Uranium Market in Halting Millennium Permits

Cameco Corp., Canada’s largest uranium producer, halted the permitting process for its Millennium mining project in northern Saskatchewan because of slumping demand for the metal used to fuel nuclear power plants.

The Saskatoon-based company this month asked the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to postpone a hearing in June to end the regulator’s environmental assessment for the project, citing “poor economic conditions in world uranium markets,” according to a statement on Cameco’s website.

Prices for uranium slumped to an eight-year low this month because of a supply glut extended by delays in restarting Japan’s nuclear reactors. Millennium is a proposed underground mine that would produce between 150,000 and 200,000 metric tons of ore annually about 600 kilometers (372 miles) north of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, near existing Cameco operations.

Cameco also withdrew its application for a 10-year license to build and operate Millennium, according to its website. The company can re-apply at a later date for the license, which would trigger a new public hearing, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission said in a statement posted to its website yesterday.

“Cameco will continue to do some limited work related to Millennium in order to be in a position to resubmit our application should market signals indicate new uranium mine projects are required,” the company said on its website.

Gord Struthers, a spokesman for Cameco, didn’t immediately return e-mail and mobile phone messages seeking comment left today outside of normal business hours.

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