Canadian uranium giant Cameco Corp (CCO.TO: Quote) will start an exploration programme at its Kintyre uranium mine in western Australia in June, the group said on Monday, after acquiring the site from Rio Tinto last year for $495 million.

It is a fairly significant drill programme that will start hopefully in June/July and run through to next year, said Ron Matthews, whose appointment as managing director of the project was also announced on Monday.

Cameco hopes to develop Kintyre as a low-cost open pit operation that would diversify the company geographically.

The project is a priority for Cameco in the exploration and development stakes as they see it as a significant deposit, said Matthews.

Rio Tinto sold the project to Cameco and its partner Mitsubishi Corp (8058.T: Quote) as part of an asset divestment programme aimed at reducing debt.

The deal saw Cameco take 70 percent and Mitsubishi 30 percent after a new state government in Western Australia reversed a policy that had blocked uranium mining in the state since the 1970s. (Reporting by Bruce Hextall)

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