Canada's uranium miner Cameco to buy Areva's stake in Millennium project

Cameco Corp, Canada's largest uranium producer, yesterday said that it will acquire French nuclear giant Areva's entire 27.94-per cent stake in the Millennium project for C$150 million, to expand its assets in Athabasca basin, where about 20 per cent of the world's uranium is produced.

The Millennium project, located in northern Saskatchewan, is a proposed uranium mine that has indicated resources of 50.9 million pounds of uranium and inferred resources of 16.7 million pounds.

Cameco, the world's largest publicly traded uranium company, is the operator of the Millennium project holding a 41.96-per cent stake, while JCU (Canada) Exploration Company holds 30.1 per cent, and Areva 27.94 per cent.

If JCU does not exercise its rights of first refusal, the acquisition will give the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based uranium miner 69.9 per cent of the project, which is held by the three companies under the Cree Lake Extension Joint Venture.

If JCU opts to exercise its rights, it will acquire an additional 11.67 per cent stake from Areva's interest and Cameco will acquire 16.27 per cent, which will result in JCU holding 41.77 per cent stake and Cameco owning 58.23 per cent in the Millennium project.

The acquisition comes after Cameco in November 2011 lost out from a bidding war with Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto over uranium miner Hathor Exploration. (See: Cameco exits from bidding war with Rio Tinto over uranium miner Hathor)

Cameco, which produces about 16 per cent of the world's uranium, owns several producing uranium mines and development-stage projects in Canada's Athabasca basin, the US and Kazakhstan.

But the Hathor Exploration acquisition, gave Rio Tinto an entry into the Athabasca Basin, where Cameco and Areva are the two dominant uranium miners.

Hathor's flagship Roughrider uranium deposit holds around 58 million pounds of uranium, according to industry experts, and has the potential to produce at least 5 million pounds of the yellow metal a year.