On April 20, 2012 AREVA received approval from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission for the environmental assessment (EA) of its proposed project to mill a portion of the ore slurry from the McArthur River mine at its McClean Lake mill. The Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment had previously approved the EA in December 2011. This project proposes to haul a portion of ore slurry from McArthur River to McClean Lake on existing roadways. If required, this project will use uranium slurry from McArthur River to commission the high-grade circuit at McClean Lake. This high-grade circuit was previously built to mill the ore from the Cigar Lake mine but has remained unused due to production delays at Cigar Lake. If necessary, this commissioning using McArthur River ore slurry would consist of two truckloads of ore slurry per week beginning in spring 2013 and lasting approximately four months.
While visiting with comunity leaders and members during 2010, we repetedly heard people identify a number of specific road improvement suggestions. One of these suggestions was that the bridge over Highway Creek, west of La Ronge on Highway #2, needed to be fixed up as it appeared to be “sagging”.
Our commitment to the community people we met in 2010 was that we would communicate all the concerns they raised about the roads to the officials at the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure – we kept that commitment. We brought community concerns to Ministry officials and to the Minister himself.
We were very pleased to discover in February 2011 that the Highway Creek bridge was being repaired to addressed the issues Northerners had identified. The efforts and hard work undertaken by the Department of Highways and Infrastructure to meet the residents of Northern Saskatchewan’s expectation are commandable. We would encourage Northerners to continue to communicate with us and with government officials to ensure that issues are brought forward and that highways and infrastructure work the way they were intended to.
As stewards of Saskatchewan’s North we all play a role in bringing improvements to the region.
Safety is one of our core values, and ensuring the public’s safety on the road is very important to us. One of the ways we can ensure road safety is by requiring that those that haul goods for us are some of the best drivers around. Many of the drivers have more kilometres on the northern roads than you and I will ever see, but at a minimum, these are some of the basic standards:
- Drivers must have a Class 1 A licence, long combination vehicle licence, 5 years or more of B-train experience and clean driver’s abstract
- Must take a Professional Driver Improvement Course every 4 years and an interactive training program using simulated driving scenarios
- Are trained with WHIMIS, radiation safety, uranium ore slurry product specifications and are certified in Transportation of Dangerous Goods
- Are required to stop every two hours as per standard operating procedures.
- Must try as best as possible to have only one truck on a bridge at one time
- Must slow down when meeting other vehicles on the road, including passenger vehicles
- Radio each other about road conditions and other vehicles on the road
Have you ever wanted to hop in a semi truck? Now is your chance – watch this video.
If you came to one of our open houses, you’ve already seen our newest video production called Sharing The Road Safely. We reviewed some of the important rules of the road in a previous post and mentioned a video would be available soon. So, here it is. If you would like to watch the video in cree, click here, or if you would like to watch the video in dene, click here.
We had open houses in La Ronge, Lac La Ronge Indian Band, and Air Ronge last week. The busiest open house was La Ronge, but we received good comments and feedback from all of our sessions. We have been diligently recording comments and questions that we are being brought up. These records continue to help shape the Environmental Impact Statement and will be reported to different government agencies.
After a weekend off, we are back in the north. Today we went to Grandmother’s Bay and Stanley Mission. One of the most common themes we are hearing is related to road conditions. It is in AREVA’s best interest, for local and insutry traffic alike, to see that the road conditions are improved.
We will continue on this week holding open houses in a number of communities. We hope to see you at one of the following locations:
Southend from 9:00am – 12:00pm on Tuesday, September 14 at the Southend Youth Centre
Hall Lake from 9:00 am – 12:00pm on Wednesday, September 15 at the Band Hall
Pinehouse from 4:00pm – 7:00pm on Wednesday, September 15 at Pinehouse Community Hall
Patuanak from 9:00am – 12:00pm on Thursday, September 15 at William Apesis Memorial Hall
Sucker River from 9:00am – 12:00pm on Friday, September 16 at Sucker River Community Hall
If you are unable to make these open houses, please be sure to ask questions on this blog.
The uranium ore slurry will be transported in specially-designed containers similar to those used during the past 10 years without incident between the McArthur River mine and the Key Lake mill. These containers withstand extreme cold and hot temperatures, fire hazards, and traffic accidents. Their wall thickness serves as a barrier to radiation exposure and protects their contents.
What makes these containers so special?
These containers consist of a vessel, a complete steel outer structure/frame, and steel cladding on the outside of that. The frame is made out of 150x150x6 HSS steel (hollow structure section). The outer cladding is a 6 mm thick steel plate. The vessel has 16mm thick walls. The 16mm walls by itself is very thick; to put it in perspective, a holding tank in a uranium mill that would hold similar slurry, would have 6mm thick walls.
The below diagram shows the ore slurry container. The “x” markings you see is an area full of insulation.
The containers are designed to meet all national and international safety criteria. They have been through many tests to ensure that they will be leak and spill proof and limit potential radiation on the outside of the containers. Some of the tests they have gone through include:
- drop tests
- stacking tests
- heat, cold, and fire resistance tests
- pressure variation tests
- vibration tests
- acceleration tests
- closing devices, valves, nuts and bolts tests
If you have any other questions about these ore slurry containers, feel free to ask us or catch us on the road for the next three weeks in the north.
The network of roads in northern Saskatchewan is an important link for several northern communities. These roads are also critical for several mining and exploration operations that rely on the roads for transporting goods and products to and from the mine sites and exploration camps. In turn, the roads are shared by local traffic and mining trucks. One of the concerns we’ve heard with the McArthur River Ore Haul project is that people are worried about the conditions of the roads.
It is in our best interest to ensure the quality of the northern roads is maintained and improved. AREVA and Cameco will continue to contribute significantly every year to the Northern Highway Improvement Fund. We also work closely with the Ministry of Highways & Infrastructure to find ways to improve the roads. A few specific improvement initiatives that we are willing to talk to the Province about are:
Driving on the northern roads is not the same as driving in the city or on a paved highway. Extra care and attention to safety is necessary to keep you, me, and everyone on the roads safe. Too often we are hearing stories of accidents on the roads – what makes it worse, is that they are almost always preventable. It may seem like some basic rules to follow, but because people know the roads so well, sometimes people forget about being safe.
There are a few things you can do to make sure you get home to your friends and family after driving in the north.
- Slow down: Speed is the biggest issue on the road. If you slow down, you will have more time to react and your vehicle will handle better when moving over. You are also likely to end up with a cracked windshield. The posted speed limit on the gravel roads is 80 km/hr, but if weather or road conditions aren’t perfect, drive slower.
- Do not pass any vehicle at the top of the a hill: If you need to pass, be sure to do it at a safe time. Do not pass when approaching a hill or at the top of the hill. There may be vehicles coming the opposite direction.
- Semi-Trucks will help you pass: If you are behind a semi-truck that you would like to pass, do not follow too close behind it. You will end up in a dust cloud and the truck driver will not be able to see you. If you stay far enough back, the truck driver will be able to see you and pull to the side and slow down when he or she thinks it is safe for you to pass.
- Stay on your side of the road: The roads are wide enough for vehicles to encounter each other, but be sure to not ride the centre of the road. If an oncoming vehicle appears you or they may not have enough time to move to your side.
- Do not drink and drive: If you have consumed alcohol and need to get somewhere, make alternative arrangements for transportation. Or, just don’t go.
Truck drivers are trained, cautious, and have an excellent safety record. They have friends and family to get home to, and so do you. Please help everyone be safer on the roads by following the five tips. We will be releasing a video next month so you can hear from truck drivers themselves on how everyone can be safer on the roads.
The McArthur River ore to McClean project involves transporting ore slurry from McArthur River about 950 kilometers to McClean Lake. To help you learn about transportation in the mining industry and to show you what the drive is like, we jumped in a few semi trucks with some great Northern Resource Trucking (NRT) employees.
If you haven’t seen HIGH GRADE HAULERS, watch part one and two here:
These are some of the faces of High Grade Haulers:
Lloyd, Safety & Compliance Manager
Lloyd drives the northern roads to make sure NRT’s team of drivers are driving safely. He was great to ride with because he knows the ins and outs of training, safety, regulations, in the trucking industry.