French nuclear giant Areva says it has started the first phase of construction to expand its McClean Lake uranium mill in northern Saskatchewan.

Areva and its partners are investing $150 million to upgrade the mill and increase its capacity.

The upgrade is being done so that the mill can process uranium ore from the Cigar Lake mine slated to begin production late next year.

The work includes construction of a storage facility for yellowcake, the powder that is an intermediate step in the processing of uranium ores.

Areva says in a news release that primary construction at McClean Lake, which includes expansion of solvent extraction and acid plants, is to begin next June.

Areva says it expects to hire more than 100 new employees for the projects by the end of next year.

"Areva is pleased that the first phase of construction has begun to expand our McClean Lake facility. We are proud that our investment in McClean Lake will benefit northern Saskatchewan businesses and create jobs for northern residents," said Vincent Martin, CEO of Areva Resources Canada Inc.