Canada is the world’s second-largest uranium producer, following Kazakhstan. Most of Canada’s uranium production comes from Cameco’s (TSX: CCO; NYSE: CCJ) McArthur River and Cigar Lake mines in Saskatchewan’s prolific Athabasca basin, home to the world’s largest and highest-grade uranium assets. Here are some of the juniors working on advanced exploration projects in the basin.

NexGen Energy (TSX: NXE; NYSE-MKT: NXE) has initiated a maiden preliminary economic assessment (PEA) on the basement-hosted Arrow uranium deposit on the company’s Rook I property in Saskatchewan’s Athabasca basin.

The PEA will use the updated March 2017 resource estimate to outline Arrow’s potential. The deposit has an indicated resource of 179.5 million lb. U3O8 (1.18 million tonnes grading 6.88% U3O8), including the A2 high-grade core of 164.9 million lb. U3O(400,000 tonnes of 18.84% U3O8). It has an inferred resource of 122.1 million lb. (4.25 million tonnes of 1.3% U3O8). NexGen expects to complete the PEA in late Q2 or early Q3 2017.

The junior recently reported results from its winter 2017 drill program on the Rook I property, highlighted by intersections within the “gap” area, which illustrate a “resource expansion opportunity.” NexGen started May with a cash position of $58 million. Its shares closed May 31 at $3.06, up 31% since finishing 2016 at $2.33.

The Rook I camp in Saskatchewan’s southwest Athabasca basin. Credit: NexGen Energy.

The Rook I camp in Saskatchewan’s southwest Athabasca basin. Credit: NexGen Energy.

Fission Uranium (TSX: FCU; OTCQX: FCUUF) continues to explore its Patterson Lake South uranium property, which hosts the Triple R deposit in the basin’s southwest.

In late April, the junior reported 16 assays from the R840W and R1620E zones, with results confirming new high-grade mineralization. These zones are currently not in Triple R’s resource estimate, but may be included in an update, anticipated later this year.

Fission aims to complete baseline studies and a possible prefeasibility study in 2018, followed by a feasibility study a year later.

A 2015 PEA envisions that a combined open-pit and underground operation at Triple R could produce 101 million lb. over a 14-year mine life. The deposit currently hosts an indicated resource of 81 million lb. U3O(2 million tonnes grading 1.83% U3O8), including the R780E high-grade resource of 45 million lb. at 18.21% U3O8. It has an inferred resource of 27 million lb. (785,000 tonnes at 1.57% U3O8), including the R780E high-grade resource of 13.9 million lbs. at 25.06% U3O8.

As of March 31, 2017, the junior had $54.7 million in its treasury. Fission shares exited May at 62¢, down 3%, or 2¢, from their 2016 close.

Drilling at Fission Uranium's Patterson Lake South project in Saskatchewan. Credit: Fission Uranium.

Drilling at Fission Uranium’s Patterson Lake South project in Saskatchewan. Credit: Fission Uranium.

Denison Mines (TSX: DML; NYSE: DNN) recently reported results from its winter 2017 winter drill program on its 60%-held Wheeler River uranium project, comprising the high-grade Gryphon and Phoenix deposits.

The 26-hole program, which included infill drilling at Gryphon, surpassed company expectations. Denison plans to drill another 18 holes in the summer, ahead of tabling a prefeasibility study.

In January 2017, Denison penned an agreement with joint-venture partners Cameco and JCU Exploration, which own a respective 30% and 10% of Wheeler, to bump its stake to 66% by the end of 2018. In exchange, Denison will fund 75% of the project’s expenses in 2017 and 2018, instead of 60%.

So far this year, Denison has raised $63.5 million by monetizing future revenue at its 22.5% held McClean Lake mill and by closing a $20 million private placement.

A 2016 PEA on Wheeler envisaged underground development and mining would first start at Gryphon and then Phoenix, with the operation producing 104.8 million lb. U3Oover 16 years.

Denison ended May 2017 at 60¢ per share, down 14% from its 2016 close of 70¢.

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