The Rook I Project (Project) is a proposed new underground uranium mine and mill development that is located in northwestern Saskatchewan, Canada. The resource for the Project is the land-based, basement-hosted (i.e., within the rocks underground), Arrow Deposit. Arrow is the largest development-stage uranium deposit in Canada.
Situated within Treaty 8 territory and the Métis Homeland, the Project is located in the southern area of the Athabasca Basin. As the crow flies, the Project is approximately 40 km east of the Saskatchewan-Alberta border, 130 km north of the town of La Loche, and 640 km northwest of the city of Saskatoon. Proposed Project infrastructure includes underground and surface facilities to support the extraction and processing of uranium ore from the Arrow Deposit.
As the sole proponent for the Arrow Deposit, NexGen is seeking regulatory approval to develop and operate the proposed mine and mill, and has been working since 2013 with the Project-impacted Indigenous Groups, which include the Clearwater River Dene Nation (CRDN), the Birch Narrows Dene Nation (BNDN), the Buffalo River Dene Nation (BRDN) and the Métis Nation – Saskatchewan (MN-S) – Northern Region II.
We value and respect the culture, interests, and aspirations of the communities where we operate, and firmly believe in establishing and maintaining trusting relationships that facilitate open discussion and meaningful collaboration. NexGen has been working with the Project’s local communities to develop impactful community programs that focus on youth, with an emphasis on education, health and wellness, and building economic capacity. NexGen is committed to meaningful engagement through all phases of the Project.
We believe that our unconventional, broader thinking, balanced with technical rigour and a deep understanding of the local area, site specifics, and industry best practice is what sets the NexGen Team apart. We are focused on delivering optimally no matter the environment or past successes, and our highly experienced team are committed to high standards in everything we do.
NexGen believes that the Project’s world-class production profile, innovative method for the uranium tailings management, and minimal surface footprint has the opportunity to demonstrate industry-leading application of environmental excellence and social stewardship.
Questions about the Rook I project can be directed to:
Founded on the belief that sustainable and responsible natural resource development has the power to create wealth and opportunity for multiple generations, NexGen is driven by the vision to become a world-leading uranium producer delivering the clean energy needs to the world while leaving lasting economic and social benefits in local communities and minimizing environmental disruption. Guided by the values of honesty, respect, resilience, and accountability, NexGen’s core values are foundational in defining how the team operates and influencing how decisions are made.
Our vision, values, and approach are our roadmap to creating positive change, and these foundational principles guide our daily operations and interactions. These principles will continue to drive excellence as the Project advances through regulatory approvals, construction, operation, reclamation and closure. Our lifecycle approach is rooted with the end in mind, making decisions today that are informed by the objectives for the eventual safe reclamation and close of the site.
The responsible development of the Rook I Project is paramount, and NexGen is proceeding through the rigorous Environmental Assessment (EA) process overseen federally by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and provincially by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment (ENV) through a harmonized process. The Project will also be subject to various provincial permits and approvals, in addition to a CNSC license.
The EA for the Rook I Project is being conducted under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, (CEAA) 2012 and The Environmental Assessment Act (Saskatchewan). While the federal and provincial regulators conduct a harmonized EA process, a positive decision on the EA will be required from first the provincial (ENV) regulator, then the federal (CNSC) regulator.
Under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA) and applicable regulations, proponents that wish to carry out activities related to the site preparation, construction, operation, or decommissioning of nuclear facilities like uranium mines and mills in Canada, must first obtain a licence authorizing the activity from the CNSC. NexGen is undergoing an integrated EA and CNSC licensing process whereby the initial licence applications for the Project are being advanced at the same time as the EA.
Both the CNSC and the ENV are life-of-mine regulators, meaning they regulate the mine process from site preparation through to post-closure and release from licensing, before the project area can be returned back to the province for long term institutional control. This life-of-mine regulatory process aligns with NexGen’s lifecycle approach to Project development and reflects NexGen’s goal of maintaining strong and lasting relationships with all Project stakeholders – from local and Indigenous communities to regulators and industry specific stakeholders, as well as the Province of Saskatchewan and Canada. NexGen believes strong, positive relationships from the start to the finish will result in better Project outcomes for all parties.
NexGen is developing a Digital EIS platform to showcase the Project Draft EIS once the sections are developed. The Digital EIS will be interactive, graphic, and will have an ability to drill down to more detail if desired. The Digital EIS is expected to be available to explore after December 2021…stay tuned!
The Environmental Assessment for the Rook I Project will evaluate the potential environmental effects associated with all Project activities, during all its phases.
NexGen has been working with Indigenous Groups throughout the environmental assessment (EA) process to continually provide opportunities to include Indigenous and local knowledge in the draft environmental impact statement (EIS).
The results of the assessment will be provided in the Environmental Impact Statement which is due for submission in early 2022.
The EIS is a culmination of more than 8 years of engagement and detailed data collection and analysis incorporating all technical, environmental and social aspects of the Project
The Joint Working Groups (JWGs) are assembled from representatives of the respective Indigenous Groups and NexGen and are an important engagement platform to allow for ongoing collaboration to enable the incorporation of community members’ views and Indigenous and local knowledge into the Project.
JWGs were formed through the Study Agreements established with each Indigenous Group in 2019 and have been implemented as the agreed-upon engagement pathway for the advancement of the Environmental Assessment (EA). The four JWGs are Clearwater River Dene Nation JWG, Birch Narrows Dene Nation JWG, Buffalo River Dene Nation JWG, and the Métis Nation – Saskatchewan JWG representing Northern Region II.
Key objectives of the JWGs are to:
Indigenous Group Leadership selected JWG participants with consideration for diverse representation, including Elders, youth, men and women, business owners and traditional land users in the Patterson Lake area.
With the health and safety of all being our top priority throughout the COVID 19 pandemic, in-person meetings were adjusted to virtual platforms with a view to ensuring continued dialogue and input.
Community Information Sessions are a vital component for sharing information with the communities local to the Project and creating the conditions for community members to provide input and ask questions directly to our NexGen team, including technical experts and consultants.
NexGen held four public Community Information Sessions in 2019 in the northwest Saskatchewan communities of La Loche, Buffalo Narrows, Birch Narrows Dene Nation and Buffalo River Dene Nation. Thank you to all who attended these information sessions. With the health and safety of all being our number one priority, the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 required us to postpone in person workshops and community information sessions; however, more sessions are being planned for 2021 and beyond.
Future Community Information Session dates will be posted and communities notified through their respective Band or Municipal offices.
On May 25, 2020, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) announced the first round of the Participation Funding Program for the Rook I Project. The funding is for the review of the draft Environmental Impact Statement, a document developed in support of the ongoing environmental assessment, once the Environmental Impact Statement is submitted by NexGen.
Indigenous communities, members of the public, and any other persons with an interest in the Rook I Project can apply for funding through the Participant Funding Program.
For more information on the Participant Funding Program please visit the following link.
NexGen has been actively exploring in northern Saskatchewan in the southwest Athabasca Basin since 2013. The Arrow Deposit was discovered on the Rook I project February 14th, 2014.
All Canadian uranium exports are solely used for clean energy production and sold to countries that have Nuclear Cooperation Agreements (NCA) in place with Canada. NCAs establish reciprocated obligations to minimize risk associated with major nuclear items including assurances that exports are properly protected, safely handled and used for peaceful purposes only.
Due to the low unit cost of CAD$ 5.81, the Rook I project would be highly profitable at todays uranium price
No, with the upper parts of the shafts being hydrostatically lined to keep water out and being approximately 200 metres away from the Athabasca Sandstone and sedimentary layers, the potential for a major mine water inflow is negligible.
Underground paste tailings management is a common practice in Canada, backfilling of stopes in uranium mines is also a common practice. However, what is unique is NexGen’s commitment to send all tailings underground rather than a small percentage (e.g. 30%) which is more common.
NexGen has had a focus on environmental performance throughout the planning and design process and has incorporated a number of industry leading environmental performance concepts into the Project.
The design, construction and operation of all project infrastructure will carefully consider environmental performance and controls will be put in place to ensure protection of the environment throughout the life of the Project.Monitoring of the environment will be in place throughout the life of the Project and will help to ensure that the environment isn’t having an adverse or unexpected impact on the environment.
The Project will also be subject to both provincial and federal environmental assessments which are highly rigorous and require the comprehensive evaluation of the predicted environmental performance of the Project. Approvals for the Project will not be issued until the provincial and federal governments are satisfied that the Project will not adversely effect the environment.
All water from the mine, mill and contained facilities, as well as water from areas around these facilities, will be collected and treated through a state-of-the-art water treatment system.
The design of the wastewater treatment plant is based on a proven, two stage chemical treatment process that has been successfully adopted throughout the uranium mining industry and at other operations in northern Saskatchewan
Test work conducted to-date has demonstrated that the plant will be capable of treating water to a level of quality that will be better than provincial and federal requirements for mine effluents.
The wastewater treatment plant will have capacity to not only effectively treat wastewater during normal operations but also in the event of non-routine operating conditions.
Treated water will be subject to rigorous testing to ensure water quality meets all requirements before being released to the environment and water will not be released unless water quality requirements are met.
Clean surface run-off (from rain and snow) surrounding the site will be diverted away from operating areas wherever possible while surface run off from facilities and infrastructure will be collected and treated.
Performance of the wastewater treatment plant will be evaluated during the environmental assessment including a comprehensive evaluation of the predicted environmental performance for the wastewater treatment plant. Approvals for the Project will not be issued until the provincial and federal governments are satisfied that the Project, including the effluent quality, will not adversely effect the environment.
NexGen’s engagement conducted to date reflects NexGen’s emphasis on meaningful engagement and takes into consideration guidance provided by both provincial and federal governments.
Engagement conducted to date and future engagement with Indigenous and local communities includes, but is not limited to:
NexGen estimates that through the construction period and operating life, the project will directly employ 700 and indirectly employ 1,000 individuals, of which half would be Saskatchewan-based.
Typical jobs include general construction, skilled trades, site services, maintenance, powerhouse technicians, technicians for mine, mill and environmental monitoring, surveyors, safety officers, supervisory, underground miners, mine and mill operators, accounting, human resources, geologists, metallurgists and engineers.