tommy.jensen@sbs.su.se johan.sandstrom@ltu.se

Category Archives: Uranium

Storytellers #29 and #30 – using local contractors


The general trend in the mining industry is to increase the use of contractors in order to be more flexible, adaptable and cost-effective. Whether this is achieved can be debated, but the trend is clear and although the markets for iron ore (the Kiruna case) and uranium (the McArthur River/Key Lake case) are different, they are both nevertheless highly influenced by ‘boom and bust’, ‘feast and famine’. Walking the fine […]

Aboriginals and the labour process (part 4)


Two short questions are still left hanging from my visit to MCA in Saskatchewan and from reading the CVMPP-reports: What about the contractors? In the reports, contractors are not really dealt with, but they still represent a significant part of the labour process. Just as on site, they had their rooms in a building beside the Cameco employees, but they shared the other facilities (restaurant, wellness facilities etc.). Interestingly, most […]

On Cozying Up to Corporations


Below you’ll find a post from our guestblogger Emily Eaton, Associate Professor at the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Regina, Canada: “I read with interest the January blog post “Empathizing with the subjects of study” and was reminded of a conversation I had with Johan when he visited the University of Regina. At that time we discussed Organizing Rocks’ relationship to Cameco Corporation, the owner of the uranium mine and mill […]

Aboriginals and the labour process (part 3)


One issue related to the labour process at MCA and to life in northern Saskatchewan that has received a lot of attention is health and well-being. In a CVMPP report from December 2014, the effects of the uranium industry’s health and wellness programs on direct employees of AREVA and Cameco are studied (predominantly based on surveys; gaining generalizability but losing context). Reading the report with my visit to MCA as […]

Visiting the Key Lake mill


Key Lake is where the uranium from MCA is processed, turned into “yellow cake” (which in the end is black), and then exported. The mill is about 80 km from the mine, about an hour drive on roads controlled by Cameco, and on which the slurry trucks go back and forth. Aboriginals entitled to be on the land are also allowed on the roads. I ride with Ryan and although the landscape […]

Aboriginals and the labour process (part 1)


The presence (past and present) of indigenous people in northern Saskatchewan significantly influences the labour process of MCA. It’s quite a contrast to Kiruna where the Sami people have a more peripheral, even marginalized position. People established in northern Saskatchewan are sometimes referred to as Residents of Saskatchewan’s North (RSN). There are about 37000 RSN and more than “85% of the population in northern Saskatchewan identify themselves as Aboriginal [Cree, Métis, […]

Challenges for the mining industry in Saskatchewan


On his trip to Canada, Johan took the chance of placing professor Greg Poelzer in front of the camera (arranged and managed by Max Poelzer) to talk about the challenges to the mining industry in northern Saskatchewan. The emphasis on capacity building in the north, particularly in aboriginal communities, is strong and not something that we experience back home in the north of Sweden.

Down the uranium mine


Follow Johan underground in the McArthur River uranium mine (MCA). Safety first. I’m taken to a locker room where I get the gear and the information necessary to be allowed underground. I then meet my guide, Curtis, a maintenance foreman. He used to work with oil sands in Alberta, but the long hours commuting to work meant too much time away from home and family in Saskatchewan. He has now […]

Arriving at the McArthur River uranium mine


Hosted by Cameco Corporation, Johan spent four days in November at the McArthur River mine site. Below, a short text about his first impressions. At noon I arrive at Westwind Aviation hangar 3A in Saskatoon. It’s a good day. The air is high, not too cold. The bag is checked and together with three other workers, I board the plane. After a short stop in Prince Albert (“there is no […]

The Walleye seminar


We wrote briefly about the first trip to Saskatchewan, Canada, in a post from July 5, mainly focusing on the differences in how aboriginal people were treated by mining companies. This post is a bit more “social” perhaps! The trip predominantly served to develop the relations with the people at the International Centre for Northern Governance and Development (ICNGD) at the University of Saskatchewan and the mining company Cameco. The […]

Canada, mines and aboriginals


During the first trip to Canada (more info, click here), Johan participated at a four-day workshop on governance and development issues related to the north of Canada, Norway and Sweden. The discussions were very fruitful and although none of the other participants focused on labour processes in the mining sector, a lot of relevant matters related to it were discussed. One key matter was the relation large companies in the […]