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Wheeler River Project Bulletin

Denison Mines Corporation is proposing to develop an in situ uranium mining and processing operation in the Athabasca Basin, 600 km north of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. As part of the licensing process, the facility is undergoing an environmental assessment under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012.

Project overview

Denison Mines Corp. (Denison) is proposing to develop an in situ recovery uranium mining and processing plant - the Wheeler River Project - in the Athabasca Basin in Saskatchewan, approximately 600 kilometres north of the City of Saskatoon, and 35km by road north of the Key Lake mill. The proposed project is located within Treaty 10 territory, the homeland of the Métis, and within the traditional territories of the Dene, Cree, and Métis peoples. It is also located within the Northern Administration District of Saskatchewan.

Denison’s proposed project is undergoing rigorous regulatory scrutiny by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and must meet all safety requirements for a uranium mine and mill. Since 2019, the proposal has been undergoing an environmental assessment (EA) as per the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012). As of July 2023, Denison has submitted a licence application to prepare site and construct a mine and mill facility, and the licence application is under review as per the CNSC’s Uranium Mines and Mills Regulations. The project is also subject to a provincial EA as per the province of Saskatchewan’s Environmental Assessment Act.

Project updates since April 2023 project bulletin

Following the October 2022 submission of a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) package, a technical review by the federal and Indigenous review team (FIRT) concluded that the submission did not meet regulatory requirements for the EA. In a letter dated March 20th, CNSC staff outlined expectations for resubmission, requesting that Denison submit responses to all information requests (IRs) from the FIRT, along with a commitments report and an update on Indigenous engagement.

Denison submitted responses to federal IRs on July 14, 2023. CNSC staff reviewed the responses to the IRs, along with any relevant proposed revisions to the EIS and supporting technical documents and deemed the submission incomplete on August 11, 2023. On August 18, 2023, Denison re-submitted the EA package, and CNSC staff deemed the submission complete on August 29, 2023. The technical review of these responses has concluded and results have been posted to the Canadian Impact Assessment Registry. Of 238 original IRs, 144 have been accepted and 18 follow-up IRs issued.

With regards to the licensing technical review, Denison continues to develop, submit and revise licensing documents in order to address CNSC staff’s comments. Final decisions on EA and on licensing must be made via a public Commission hearing, which will welcome Indigenous and public participation. No such hearing has yet been scheduled.

Next steps

Denison will review and respond to outstanding and follow-up IRs from the technical review. Denison will re-submit an updated draft EIS to the CNSC which will kick-off another completeness check and technical review.

CNSC staff will continue to engage on the Wheeler River Project and is planning outreach events related to Denison’s in situ mining proposal as this project progresses. Stay tuned!

Did you know?

The CNSC launched the new Indigenous and Stakeholder Capacity Fund (ISCF) in May 2023. Building on the CNSC’s successful Participant Funding Program, the ISCF supports Indigenous Nations and communities with a direct interest in nuclear activities. It can be used to build capacity and knowledge more effectively while allowing groups to participate in regulatory processes and programs.

Wheeler River Project Bulletin

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