Layoffs coming: Premier says Saskatchewan looking for more uranium markets

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Cameco, the world's largest uranium producer, has temporarily suspended operations at its McArthur River mine and Key Lake mill in northern Saskatchewan, in a blow for the uranium industry.

"That's a source of great concern because the gap between Aboriginal unemployment and overall unemployment persists, even though we see it reduced somewhat, it persists", Wall argued.

"And when you have layoffs like this, even if they're only temporary, obviously it's going to disproportionately impact Aboriginal people who want to be a part of the workforce, and don't we all".

Wall says the province will help workers get access to training, services and benefits.

The suspension is expected to last 10 months, but more details are to be provided when fourth quarter results are released in February.

Cameco president and CEO Tim Gitzel.

Wall is confident that Cameco intended these layoffs to only be temporary. It also said it would cut its annual dividend to $0.08 per common share in 2018 from Cdn$0.10.

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Last month, the company reported a loss of C$123.71 million for the third quarter, compared to profit a year ago.

TD Securities expects upward pressure on uranium prices in the coming days but believes other producers also will need to cut supply for sustainable price gains; the firm reiterates its Buy rating on CCJ and raises its stock price target to C$15 from C$13 in anticipation of higher uranium prices.

Uranium prices have fallen more than 70% since the Fukushima disaster in 2011 remaining low since then as a result of oversupply and excess inventory in the industry.

Gitzel said the company made the decision in the face of a stubbornly weak global market for uranium.

Gitzel said those investing in Cameco would be doing so because, in the longer term, the current low market price for uranium is unsustainable, with the company sitting on some of the lowest cost-of-production mines on Earth and well-positioned to take advantage of an eventual turnaround.

In the meantime, Wall said Saskatchewan will keep trying to open up markets for uranium in India and China.

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