Athabasca Basin uranium companies are working in the world’s highest-grade uranium district. Here’s a brief overview of players in the area.
Uranium market watchers know that Canada’s Athabasca Basin is among the world’s richest uranium jurisdictions and hosts several of the highest-grade uranium deposits on the planet.
Spanning close to 100,000 square kilometers of the Canadian Shield of Northern Saskatchewan and Alberta, the Athabasca Basin is a major contributor to Canada’s status as the second largest uranium producer and the third largest in uranium reserves.
Unsurprisingly, the region is home to the world’s largest uranium mine, Cigar Lake, which reports average grades of 14.69 percent U3O8 and accounts for 13 percent of global uranium production.
First commissioned in 2014, Cigar Lake is operated by Uranium major Cameco (TSX:CCO,NYSE:CCJ), which holds a 50 percent stake in the mine. Orano (37.1 percent), Idemitsu Uranium Exploration Canada (7.875 percent) and TEPCO Resources (5 percent) also hold stakes in the mine. Ore from the underground mining property is processed at Orano’s McClean Lake mill, located 70 kilometers from the mine.
Uranium was first discovered in the Athabasca Basin in 1934, and today the region remains a major hot spot for uranium exploration. In recent years, a number of junior uranium companies have made exciting new discoveries in the basin, sparking a staking rush by others looking to get in on the action.
Athabasca Basin uranium exploration companies
With that in mind, the Investing News Network has put together a list of uranium exploration companies with projects in the Athabasca Basin. The companies are listed below in alphabetical order.
The information provided was current as of May 28, 2021. Don’t see your favorite Athabasca Basin uranium exploration company on the list? Let us know in the comments section.
Azicourt Energy is developing the East Preston uranium project near the southern edge of the Western Athabasca Basin. The project is a joint venture with Skyharbour Resources (TSXV:SYH,OTCQB:SYHBF) and Dixie Gold (TSXV:DG), which both have 15 percent ownership.
Three prospective conductive and low-magnetic signature corridors have been discovered on the property with a total strike length of over 25 kilometers. The targets are basement-hosted, unconformity-related uranium deposits similar to NexGen Energy’s (TSX:NXE,NYSEAMERICAN:NXE) Arrow deposit and Cameco’s Eagle Point mine.
Baselode Energy has three uranium exploration projects outside the Athabasca Basin: Catharsis, Shadow and Hook. The company’s “Athabasca 2.0” exploration approach is focused on exploring for near-surface, basement-hosted uranium deposits outside of the basin; its plan is to use innovative technology, well-understood geophysical methods and thoughtful geological interpretations to map deep structural controls to identify shallow targets for diamond drilling.
Project generator CanAlaska Uranium has identified several uranium exploration targets in the Athabasca Basin. The company collectively holds one of the largest land positions in the region with approximately 1.2 million acres in land claims. CanAlaska Uranium’s flagship West McArthur project is a joint venture with Cameco, with CanAlaska serving as operator.
4. Denison Mines (TSX:DML,NYSEAMERICAN:DNN)
Denison Mines is another uranium company with an extensive presence in the Athabasca Basin. It has a 90 percent interest in its flagship Wheeler River project, which is reportedly the largest undeveloped uranium asset in the region. Denison also has a 22.5 percent interest in operating the McClean Lake uranium mill, as well as interests in NI 43-101 uranium mineral resources at the McClean Lake, Midwest and Waterbury Lake projects. Additionally, the company holds approximately 280,000 hectares of prospective exploration ground in the Athabasca Basin.
Fission Uranium is developing its wholly owned Patterson Lake South (PLS) uranium property, which hosts the high-grade Triple R deposit. The company’s prefeasibility study shows that Triple R has the potential to be one of the lowest-cost operating uranium mines in the world.
Fission 3.0 is a project generator developing a large portfolio of properties, including 14 highly prospective uranium projects across four key regions in the Athabasca Basin: the PLS area, the Northeast Athabasca Basin, Beaverlodge and Key Lake. CEO Dev Randhawa and COO Ross McElroy have been instrumental in the discovery and development of a number of significant uranium projects, including Fission Uranium’s Triple R deposit.
Forum Energy Metals has built a diverse mineral portfolio with various base metal and uranium projects in Canada. At the northeast fringe of the Athabasca Basin, the company holds the Fir Island uranium property; Orano Canada (formerly AREVA) has a four year option to acquire up to a 70 percent interest in the project by spending C$6 million on exploration. Forum holds an additional seven uranium properties within the basin region.
A subsidiary of NexGen Energy, IsoEnergy has a well-stocked portfolio of more than two dozen early stage mineral exploration properties in the Eastern Athabasca Basin. The company is primarily focused on exploring its Larocque East, Geiger, Radio and Thorburn Lake properties.
IsoEnergy’s 2018 discovery of the Hurricane high-grade uranium deposit at the Larocque East property was the first significant uranium find in the region since NexGen’s Arrow discovery. The Thorburn Lake project is located 7 kilometers east of the Cigar Lake mine and is on trend.
9. NexGen Energy
NexGen Energy’s Athabasca Basin land package covers nearly 200,000 hectares, mostly centered on the southwestern part of the basin. This includes some of the most notable Athabasca discoveries in recent years, including the high-grade Arrow deposit, discovered in 2014; South Arrow, discovered in 2017; the Harpoon discovery in 2016; the Bow discovery in 2015; and the Cannon area, discovered in 2016. All of these are located on NexGen’s 100 percent owned Rook I property.
10. Purepoint Uranium Group (TSXV:PTU)
Purepoint Uranium Group has 12 projects in the Athabasca Basin, including its flagship Hook Lake project, a joint venture with Cameco (39.5 percent) and Orano Canada (39.5 percent). Hook Lake hosts the Spitfire uranium discovery and is on trend with recent high-grade uranium discoveries, including Fission Uranium’s Triple R deposit and NexGen’s Arrow deposit.
11. Skyharbour Resources
Skyharbour Resources has an extensive pipeline of uranium exploration projects in the region, including six drill-ready projects covering 240,000 hectares. One of those projects is the advanced-stage Moore uranium exploration project, which is located 15 kilometers east of Denison’s Wheeler River project and 39 kilometers south of Cameco’s McArthur River uranium mine.
The company also has a joint venture agreement on the Preston project whereby Orano Canada has earned a 51 percent interest in the asset through exploration expenditures and cash payments.
Standard Uranium’s Davidson River exploration project lies in the southwestern region of the Athabasca Basin and is highly prospective for basement-hosted uranium deposits.
This early stage uranium project is along trend from recent high-grade uranium discoveries, including Fission Uranium’s Triple R and NexGen’s Arrow.
13. Trench Metals (TSXV:TMC)
Trench Metals has the right to acquire a 100 percent interest in the Gorilla Lake uranium project, which covers nearly 7,000 hectares in the Northern Athabasca Basin. The company is evaluating targets similar to those present at the Cluff Lake uranium mine, which lies approximately 8 kilometers south of Gorilla Lake. The former mine produced approximately 62.5 million pounds of uranium between 1980 and 2002.
This is an updated version of an article first published by the Investing News Network in 2015.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
Editorial Disclosure: Azincourt Energy, Baselode Energy, CanAlaska Uranium, Fission Uranium, Fission 3.0, Forum Energy Metals, IsoEnergy, Skyharbour Resources and Standard Uranium are clients of the Investing News Network. This article is not paid-for content.
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