Regulatory review status for Wheeler River project

Denison Mines Corporation (Denison) is proposing to develop an in situ recovery uranium mining and processing operation – the Wheeler River project – located in the Athabasca Basin in Saskatchewan, approximately 600 kilometres north of the City of Saskatoon.

Specifically, Denison is proposing to develop an operation that would produce up to 5,400 tonnes of uranium oxide annually for 20 years.

Authorization from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) is required in the form of a licence issued under subsection 24(2) of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA), in order for the proposed project to proceed. However, before the Commission can make an NSCA licensing decision on this proposal, CNSC staff must complete an environmental assessment (EA) under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012).

Although the Impact Assessment Act came into force on August 28, 2019, it contains provisions for ongoing projects to be completed under CEAA 2012. This means that the CNSC will continue to lead the review of this project.

The completion of an EA under CEAA 2012 involves producing an EA report based on the information in Denison’s project description, a final environmental impact statement (EIS) and other supporting documentation.

CNSC’s environmental assessment process

CNSC staff must have reviewed enough evidence and be able to show that the proposed Wheeler River project activities would not cause significant adverse environmental effects, before the Commission can proceed with its decision. The CNSC will make this information available as Commission member documents before a public hearing. Denison has not yet submitted a licence application. The project is also under review by the Saskatchewan Ministry of the Environment’s Environmental Assessment and Stewardship branch.

Environmental assessment start date: May 31, 2019
Reference number80178

Timeline

Application submitted

Date Activity
A licence application for a CNSC licence has not yet been submitted.

Assessments

Date Activity
May 31, 2019 Notice of commencement of the EA
May 31, 2019 Public comments invited on project description
December 2019 Commission hearing on the scope of EA
December 20, 2019 Record of decision on the scope of the EA
March 20, 2020 Temporary suspension of the EA
January 25, 2021 Resumption of the EA
January 10, 2022 Notice of participant funding offering for draft EIS review (1)
To be confirmed Denison submission of draft environmental impact statement (EIS)
To be confirmed CNSC and federal/provincial technical review of draft EIS
To be confirmed Public comments invited on draft EIS
To be confirmed CNSC open houses
To be confirmed Denison submission of final EIS
To be confirmed Notice of participant funding offering (2)
To be confirmed CNSC staff Commission member document and EA report available for public review
To be confirmed Public intervention deadline

Public hearing

Date Activity

To be confirmed

Commission decisions

Date Activity

To be confirmed

Licence issued

Date Activity

To be confirmed

Compliance activities

Date Activity

To be confirmed

Contact

For general CNSC updates, subscribe to the CNSC’s mailing list. For information directly related to this project, please contact:

Environmental Assessment Division
Email: WheelerRiver@cnsc-ccsn.gc.ca
Telephone: 613-995-7948 or 1-800-668-5284

Mailing address: Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
P. O. Box 1046, Station B
Ottawa, ON K1P 5S9

Additional resources

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