Currie’s Corner 64l, July 26, 2018
When I first took a job as a working journalist in Regina in 1977, one of the ‘hot button’ issues, besides the continuing search for a replacement for George Reed in the Rider backfield, was uranium mining in the northern part of the province.
In places like Key Lake and Cluff lake, uranium deposits were so rich that you could almost mine the stuff with a front end loader. The NDP government of Allan Blakeney decided to turn its back on environmentalists and go for it. In a relatively short period of time, more than half the electricity that was generated in France and other European countries came from nuclear reactors that were fueled by Saskatchewan uranium.
A number of huge events have changed that picture. One was the accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979. Another was the earthquake in Japan in 2011 that damaged the reactor at Fukishima .The French and the Germans are making dramatic cuts in their nuclear programs. The industry remains bullish, pointing to developing countries where many new reactors are being built. It’s a very mixed picture, and it’s hard to know the future with world prices showing no sign of going back up.
A major player in the mining and processing of uranium in Saskatchewan is Cameco. This past week was a grim one for its employees. A total of 550 well paid workers at McArthur River and Key Lake were given pink slips. Another 150 people will soon be gone from the company’s corporate offices in Saskatoon.
What a contrast to a decade ago. Saskatchewan had it all .. oil and gas, potash, wheat and other grains, and uranium. They all went up in value, and they all came crashing down. Uranium will always be a doubled-edged sword. The power that it produces is miraculous and relatively clean, but it’s also what they use to make bombs that could potentially destroy us all.
Take care everyone.
I’m Roger Currie