Remarks at the CNSC Public Hearing: Application by Cameco Corporation

April 3, 2013

Remarks by Heather Kleb, Interim President and CEO, Canadian Nuclear Association
at the CNSC Public Hearing: Application by Cameco Corporation to Consider Renewal of its Uranium Mine Construction Licence for the Cigar Lake Operation and Renewal of its Licence for the Decommissioned Beaverlodge Facilities
April 3, 2013

Good morning (or afternoon) President Binder, Commission members, and members of the public.  My name is Heather Kleb and I am the Interim President and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Association.

I am here to speak to you on behalf of the 60,000 Canadians whose livelihoods are supported directly, or indirectly, by our industry.  These men and women explore for and mine uranium, generate electricity, and advance medicine through lifesaving diagnostics and therapies.

Our members work and live in communities across Canada where they maintain a deep commitment to the safety of their workplace, and the protection of the environment.  That is why I am here today supporting Cameco’s applications for the renewal of the Cigar Lake and Beaverlodge licenses – because they affect not only our livelihoods, but the communities where we live and work.

During my presentation, I will focus on two main themes.  First, the numerous socio-economic benefits that Cameco’s operations bring to Canadians; and second, Cameco’s commitment to the protection of health, safety and the environment, as they provide these benefits.

The development of Saskatchewan’s uranium resources brings clear socio-economic benefits.  Not just to the local communities, but to the vendors and contractors across Saskatchewan, and beyond its borders.

Cameco is the leading industrial employer of Aboriginal people in Saskatchewan, providing high-paying, secure jobs in northern communities.  The uranium mining industry employs some 5,000 Canadians and pays them roughly $500 million in wages and benefits.

In 2010, uranium exports from Canada totalled $753 million dollars.  The uranium mining industry also contributes directly to government revenues.  Uranium exports in 2010 yielded taxes and royalties for the province worth nearly $150 million dollars.

In reviewing the written submissions from other intervenors, we saw broad recognition of the significant role that Cameco, and the Cigar Lake Mine, play in Saskatchewan’s economic health.  However, your decision does not rest on these benefits alone.  The health and safety of every nuclear industry worker and the protection of the environment, where they live and work, are also very important.

Development can only occur in a workplace that does the utmost to protect the health and safety of the people who work there.  The health and safety of the people undertaking activities at the Cigar Lake and Beaverlodge facilities is a priority for Cameco.  Cameco is committed to the “safe, clean and reliable operation of all its facilities,” and is continuously improving its safety performance.

The effectiveness of Cameco’s health and safety programs and procedures is evident in Cigar Lake’s record of lost time injuries.  Only one lost-time injury occurred between 2010 and 2012 even though the work hours increased from 1.3 to 2.3 million over this period.  Further, there have been no lost-time injuries at Beaverlodge in the current licence term.

In fact, in 2010, the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum awarded Cameco the prestigious John T. Ryan National Safety Trophy for having one reportable injury for over 700,000 working hours at McArthur River in 2009, and a Special Certificate for reporting only one injury in a similar timeframe at Cigar Lake.

Over the years Cameco has helped maintain Canada’s strong safety track record.  Canada has a track record of over 50 years of occupational and public health and safety.  We are a safety leader in the industry worldwide.  Even so, we strive to continually improve.

When it comes to safety, we are never complacent.  Cameco values safety and, like all of our members, strives to improve even further.

Cameco also holds environmental protection as a core value.  We can see this in how well Cameco has integrated the mitigation of environmental risks into the design and operation of the Cigar Lake mine.  Protecting the environment is not an afterthought.  It’s at the centre of Cameco’s business.

We also see this core value in the responsible environmental stewardship demonstrated at the decommissioned Beaverlodge properties.  Cameco continues to demonstrate responsible environmental management many years after these facilities have been decommissioned.  Since forming in 1988, Cameco has managed these properties to ensure the health and safety of their workers, the public and the environment.

Canada’s uranium mining industry is in fact recognized as the best-performing mining sector relative to the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations.  Cameco was also specifically recognized by the Prospector’s & Developers Association of Canada with an Environmental and Social Responsibility Award for establishing good community relations in its exploration and mining operations.

By maintaining its commitment to the highest standards of environmental stewardship, Cameco continues to demonstrate our industry’s responsible management over the full lifecycle of our activities.

While reading the submissions provided by other interveners, it was satisfying to see the recognition of Cameco’s strong track record in protecting the environment.  Some of the community groups that wrote in to support the project also questioned how Cigar Lake could affect the environment.  We ask those questions too.

That’s why I draw your attention to the effectiveness of the infrastructure and programs that Cameco has put in place to protect the environment.  We believe that Cameco has demonstrated, both through the information provided to the Commission, and through its historic track record, that it is qualified to responsibly carry out the required activities at the Cigar Lake and Beaverlodge facilities.

The question before you in this hearing is specific to the relicensing of Cigar Lake and the decommissioned Beaverlodge facilities.  As you approach this decision, I hope to have helped renew your confidence that the companies who are safely managing nuclear projects today will continue to do so in the future and long after commercial operations are complete.

Before I wrap up, let me leave you with a thought or two about how your decision could affect Canada’s future.

Around the world today, there are 64 new nuclear reactors under construction in 14 different countries.  Most of these are in China.  The ability of Canadians to access this market is likely to grow now that China and Canada have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Energy Cooperation.

We foresee hundreds of new jobs and billions of dollars in new investments for Canada.  To realize these benefits we will need to build new mines and mills to extract more uranium.  That work will happen in communities just like the ones that made submissions to the Commission.  We support their call to develop a northern community that is “healthy, vibrant and prosperous.”

The CNA supports Cameco’s applications.  They will provide social and economic benefits to Saskatchewan.  This will be accomplished while maintaining the highest standards of workplace safety and world class environmental standards.

In summary, Canada enjoys a natural wealth in uranium that contributes to economic growth locally, and across Canada.  Cameco has demonstrated that it is qualified to safely carry out the activities sought in its applications and has made adequate provisions for the protection of the environment.  The Canadian Nuclear Association therefore recommends that the Commission approve Cameco’s application to renew the Cigar Lake and Beaverlodge licenses.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to appear before you today, and I would be pleased to answer any questions that you may have.

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