March 13 (Reuters) - Canadian uranium producer Cameco Corp said on Thursday it has begun producing ore at its oft-delayed Cigar Lake mine in northern Saskatchewan, contributing to a spike in its stock.
The uranium sector also got a boost after the chairman of China's top nuclear firm told Reuters that China is set to beat its 2020 targets for nuclear power.
Cameco shares jumped 6 percent in early trading in Toronto and New York. Other uranium producers, like Energy Fuels Inc and Paladin Energy Ltd also posted healthy early gains of 11 and 4 percent respectively.
Cameco's Toronto-listed stock touched C$28.57, their highest level since May, 2011.
The C$2.6 billion ($2.3 billion) Cigar Lake mine comes on stream even as Cameco last month backed away from its 2018 overall production target, and as some other miners idle production and defer new projects to cope with low uranium prices.
France's Areva SA, which owns a minority stake in the mine, said the ore will begin moving to its mill at McClean Lake on Thursday, with processing set to begin by the end of the second quarter.
The mill is expected to produce between 2 million and 3 million pounds of uranium concentrate this year, ramping up to its full production rate of 18 million pounds by 2018. ($1=$1.11 Canadian) (Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by Stephen Powell)