Cameco McArthur River Mine Water Treatment

Location:  McArthur, Saskatchewan
Year Completed: 1997
Deliverables: 6MMBTU/hr pond heating system

Project Overview

In early 1997, Inproheat supplied a 6 MM BTU/hr pond water heating system for Cameco McArthur River project in northern Saskatchewan. The McArthur project is one of the newest uranium mines located in a remote site approximately 500 kilometers north of Saskatoon. The mine was developed in late 1998. Two deep underground shafts will provide access to the ore body. Mining will be done by remote controlled machines to minimize worker exposure to the high grade ore.

The shafts are subject to inflow of groundwater, which has to be pumped to the surface and stored in several large plastic lined ponds to prevent seepage into the underlying soil and hydrological regimes. Before the water is pumped out and discharged to the river, it has to be chemically treated and filtered. Since the ponds are located outside, and winter temperatures dropping below minus 40º C (-40º F), a thick layer of ice is formed on the surface. The ice can be as thick as 8 feet, reaching almost to the pond bottom. This creates a two-fold problem. Firstly, the ice formation reduces the pond capacity, and secondly, the ice cap moves when the water is pumped into or out of the pond. In the process, ice can tear the plastic liner, leading to the contamination of the surrounding soil and water system.