Orano's plans to expand its tailings storage facility at its McLean uranium mill has been approved by Canadian nuclear safety authorities.
The Jeb facility stores tailings generated at the McLean Lake, which processes uranium ore from Cameco's Cigar Lake operations. All facilities are located in Saskatchewan.
Orano will build an embankment around the top of the tailings pit, which will make the height around the pit be even with the highest side of the pit. Tailings are currently consolidated to the top of the pit on the lowest side.
The expansion of the embankment will be done in stages, using material used from the clean waste rock pile.
The company submitted its application for the amendment to the initial tailings permit to allow it to bolster the facility walls in June 2020. The current amended permit is valid until June 2027.
Orano's tailings facility in its pre-expanded form was expected to reach its capacity in 2027. Orano did not specify what the new capacity amount for the expanded tailings facility will be.
The approvals process included consultation with indigenous nations and communities, with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission holding a virtual public hearing on the expansion in October.
The CNSC will continue to monitor Orano's tailings facility on a regular basis.
Orano maintains that the footprint of the tailings facility will not increase as a result of the expansion, and no new infrastructure will need to be built to accommodate the expansion.