Remarks at the CNSC Public Hearing: Application by Cameco Corporation

October 2, 2013

Remarks by Heather Kleb, Interim President and CEO, Canadian Nuclear Association
at the CNSC Public Hearing: Application by Cameco Corporation for Renewal of Operating Licences for the Key Lake, McArthur River and Rabbit Lake Operations
October 2, 2013

Good morning, President Binder, Commission members and members of the public.

My name is Heather Kleb. I am the interim president and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Association. Also here with me today is Malcolm Bernard, our Director of Communications. We are here today to speak to you on behalf of the 60,000 Canadians who work directly or indirectly in the nuclear industry. These men and women mine and mill uranium, generate electricity, and advance medicine through life saving diagnostics and therapies.

Our members maintain a deep commitment to the safety of their workplace and their communities, and to the protection of the environment. That is why I am here today supporting Cameco’s applications to renew the operating licences for the Key Lake, McArthur River and Rabbit Lake operations. These operations affect our livelihoods, as well as the communities where we live and work.

During my presentation I will focus on two main themes. The first is Cameco’s long and stable history of operating these facilities safely, protecting its workers, the public and the environment. The second part of my presentation will focus on the numerous benefits that the nuclear industry brings to communities and Canada. These include good paycheques, clean air, and the science and technology that Canada needs in the 21st-century global economy.

Let me begin with safety. Uranium mines are among the safest industrial workplaces in Saskatchewan. This is documented and shown by statistics gathered by several government agencies.

For example, the Community Vitality Monitoring Partnership Process examined the health and safety of workers in the uranium mining sector. Their study showed that workplace injuries for uranium workers are lower than in many other industries and work sites. With or without lost time, open pit or underground – no matter where they worked, uranium mine workers received fewer injuries than workers in a wide variety of workplaces. They were safer than if they had worked in hospitals and care homes, commercial and industrial construction sites…. Even grocery stores, department and hardware stores, couriers and commercial businesses.

Within this excellent picture of uranium mining in general, Cameco’s performance stands out at the mine and mills you are considering today.

At Rabbit Lake, Cameco has a lost-time injury frequency of 0.37 injuries per 100 workers. In addition, at its Key Lake operation has gone more than five years without a contractor lost-time injury. Not only are these better than the mining industry average, which itself is very low, but Cameco also has been recognized by the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum. The Institute awards the John. T. Ryan safety trophy annually to the mine that experiences the lowest lost-time injury rate. It has awarded that trophy to Cameco three years in a row.

In addition to this very strong health and safety performance, Cameco maintains a strong performance record in environmental protection. Uranium in general has been rated as the best performing mining sector with regard to releases to local water bodies under the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations. Cameco exemplifies that performance at the Key Lake, McArthur River and Rabbit Lake operations. All are ISO-14001 certified. All are good examples of Cameco’s continual improvements in preventing pollution and protecting the environment.

On-going improvements include the commissioning of steam, oxygen and acid plants at the Key Lake operation. These have reduced sulphur dioxide emissions by 95%. Cameco has installed a molybdenum and selenium removal circuit improving the efficiency of removing these elements. At McArthur River, these improvements have reduced molybdenum levels in treated mine water by 83%. And at Rabbit Lake, major upgrades have been undertaken, resulting in significant improvements of all water treated and released to the environment.

This is a solid record of environmental performance. Add the strong health and safety record I described earlier. And we clearly see that Canadian uranium mines lead the way.

In fact, uranium mine workers receive fewer conventional injuries than their counterparts in construction, medical or retail settings. Uranium mines lead in environmental performance, as they have the best performance in complying with the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations.

Turning now to my second theme, let me show you the many economic benefits that uranium mining brings to Saskatchewan. In three decades, uranium mining has injected more than $6.7 billion into the province. Last year alone, mining employees received paycheques and benefits worth $377 million. The employees of supplier companies earned a further $225 million. In addition, uranium mining companies paid royalties and taxes to the provincial government, and taxes to local governments.

Through partnerships between the uranium industry and government, the industry in northern Saskatchewan has made significant improvements in education levels. This is particularly the case in post-secondary training, such as apprenticeships and trades. Apprenticeship rates are now higher in northern Saskatchewan than the rest of the province.

As well the uranium industry takes significant pride in its record of aboriginal employment. Of the industry’s approximately 5,000 employees, about half are aboriginal. In fact, the uranium mining industry leads Canada in aboriginal industrial employment. One of Cameco’s core values is People. They value the contribution of every employee and they treat people fairly by demonstrating respect for individual dignity, creativity and cultural diversity. Such actions have been recognized and in 2013 Cameco was awarded the Progressive Aboriginal relations gold medal award from the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business. Also this year, the Bank of Montreal recognized Cameco to be among Canada’s Best Diversity Employers.

Another economic benefit derives from this industry’s customers. And Canada’s uranium is used exclusively to generate electrical power. Nuclear power plants use uranium within the constraints of international non-proliferation agreements and Canadian export licenses. Canadian uranium has only peaceful purposes. We are pleased to acknowledge the recently signed Nuclear Cooperation Agreement between India and Canada that came into force days ago. This allows Canadian companies to export nuclear items to India for peaceful purposes and will be regulated by strict International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.

Yet another economic benefit is at the same time an environmental benefit. Canada and the world are working to delay, and ultimately to prevent, climate change. Nuclear power plants emit virtually no greenhouse gases. So we are able to power our economy without contributing to climate change or smog. The benefits are clear. Currently, nuclear energy provides roughly 15% of the electricity produced in Canada but in Ontario it has produced 50% of the electricity over the past five years. Other than hydro, no other source of energy can produce so much low-carbon, base-load power at such sustained levels.

Cameco contributes greatly to this environmental and economic benefit by providing the fuel for nuclear power, at home and abroad. McArthur River is the world’s largest high-grade uranium mine. It contains nearly 380 million pounds of U3O8. Key Lake hosts the largest uranium mill in the world, and Rabbit Lake the second largest.

Mr. President, it’s all there. Clean air, reliable power, good jobs and paycheques, and a safety record that sets the bar for Canadian industry. For all of these reasons, the Canadian Nuclear Association respectfully submits that the Commission should approve Cameco’s applications to renew the Key Lake, McArthur River and Rabbit Lake operating licenses for ten-year terms. Cameco has demonstrated that it is qualified to carry out safely the activities sought in its applications and has made adequate provision for the protection of the environment.

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

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