OHS Canada Magazine

Ontario mayor impressed by workers’ safety focus at Saskatchewan uranium mine

March 18, 2024
By Mike Stimpson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
Health & Safety

Ignace’s mayor and the rest of the township’s delegation have returned from their tour of a uranium mine in northern Saskatchewan.

As a community on the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s shortlist for hosting a proposed deep geological repository for nuclear waste, Ignace sent the delegation to learn more about where nuclear reactors’ fuel comes from.

The main objective for touring Cameco’s McArthur River mine was to learn about the regulatory and safety standards applied to uranium mines, “as well as understand the engagement and public support components of the process undertaken by the nuclear industry in Saskatchewan,” a Friday news release from the township stated.

Ignace Mayor Kim Baigrie described the experience – which also included meeting with officials from SaskPower and two communities near the mine – as “eye-opening” and informative.

Cameco operations at McArthur River have “very strict rules,” she told Newswatch in an interview.


“The emphasis on safety with their employees – that struck me,” she said.

Going deep underground into the mine was a new experience for the mayor.

“That was my first time underground and I was scared, I’m not gonna lie,” said Baigrie.

But the elevator trip to 600-plus metres below surface went smoothly, she added.

“We were there in no time. It was like nothing, really. It was like riding an elevator to the 15th floor of a building.”

Baigrie said meetings with officials from Pinehouse and English River First Nation, communities near the mine site, hammered home the importance of “keeping the community informed.”

Pinehouse’s mayor “emphasized meeting with people and keeping everyone involved. You have to keep everyone involved, everyone informed,” said Baigrie.

“And that’s how I feel about our community. If they need more information, we need to get them that information. If we have to send them somewhere to get that information, then that is what we need to do as a community.”

The mine tour was preceded by a Cameco presentation on the uranium ore mining process, the safety and regulatory regulations framework in place, a mine safety review process, and a tour of employee camp facilities.

“Overall, this experience provided all of us with a firsthand overview of the nuclear cycle beginning with the mining operations for high-grade uranium, the safety standards and regulations around the process, and the potential of clean energy utilization, as well as the future requirement for the storage of used nuclear fuel,” Ignace Coun. Jodie Defeo said.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization is considering a location between Ignace and Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation for the site of a nuclear waste repository to be constructed deep underground. A site near South Bruce in southern Ontario is also being considered.

The next major event in Ignace’s “willingness process” to decide whether the community wants to host repository operations is a Nuclear Exploration Event set for April 12-13 at the township’s recreation centre.


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