Uranium mega-miner Cameco announced Tuesday it is preparing to resume its uranium hexafluoride (UF6) production at its Port Hope conversion facility in southern Ontario.

UF6 production is expected to resume early in the third quarter of this year.  The Port Hope plant had just been reopened last September after the June 2007 closure after the discovery of leaked uranium and arsenic contamination in the ground beneath the plant.

The facility is one of only three commercial suppliers of uranium hexafluoride in the western world. Uranium hexafluoride is enriched and fabricated at other facilities into fuel pellets used in many nuclear reactors.

While UF6 production at Port Hope has been suspended, Cameco made its delivery commitments to its customers from investor and contracted supply under an agreement with Springfield Fuels Ltd. In addition, Cameco arranged for voluntary deferrals of UF6 deliveries with its customers and made limited purchases of UF6 conversion services.

Deliveries of uranium hexafluoride are expected to resume within the next month. Meanwhile, Cameco is negotiating with other suppliers to broaden and diversify its supply base. The company intends to sign agreements with one or more additional suppliers in the near future, Cameco said in a news release.

Cameco said it intends to recall the 25 employees who were temporarily laid off when the UF6 production was suspended.