The deposit, discovered in 1981, is second in size of high-grade deposits only to McArthur River mine. Other deposits, such as Olympic Dam in Australia, contain more uranium, but not at the significant grades of the Saskatchewan deposits. The average grade at Cigar Lake is in excess of 20% whereas the world average is less than 1%.
Construction began in 2005 with production planned for 2007, but the mine is currently undergoing a phased remediation program to restore the underground workings following a flood in October, 2006. Further water inflow occurred in 2008, and production is expected to be delayed until 2011 at the earliest.
As of December 31, 2007, the mine has proven and probable reserves of 497,000 tonnes at an average grade of 20.67% U3O8 (226.3 Million pounds).