Reuters reports, “Canada has agreed to waive for European companies a longstanding requirement that buyers take on a Canadian partner in uranium mines, a move that may spur greater investment in developing the country’s rich uranium reserves. …Canada, the world’s second biggest producer of uranium behind Kazakhstan, currently restricts foreign companies from owning more than 49 percent of any uranium mine.”
Photo: The exploration camp for the Millennium deposit is located on Slush Lake.
The news agency notes this concession by Harper to the uranium mining industry came after intense lobbying by Paris-based Areva SA and the London-based British-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto Plc. Areva owns the Kiggavik uranium project in Nunavut. They have also partnered on projects with Cameco to establish mines near Pinehouse, Saskatchewan notably the Cigar Lake mine (expected to be the world’s largest uranium mine) and the Millennium mine project. Rio Tinto is pursuing the Roughrider uranium deposit in northern Saskatchewan, which is reportedly the third-highest grade uranium deposit in the world.
The Canadian Press adds, “Saskatchewan is one of the world’s leading uranium producing regions. (That province’s premier Brad Wall welcomes CETA and) says the changing rules could mean $2.5 billion in investment in the province over the next decade.”
There are also reportedly European investors in the Matoush uranium mine project in the Otish Mountains in Quebec. The company developing that mine, Strateco Resources Inc, says it may use the Chapter 11 investor-state clause of the North American Free Trade Agreement to challenge the delay it’s experiencing receiving its provincial permits while Quebec holds an 18-month public consultation and an environmental review agency report is written on the industry.
The Council of Canadians has spoken against uranium mining which creates toxic tailings and poses water contamination and other environmental risks and health hazards. Our formal statement of opposition, approved by our Board of Directors in 2008, says, “The Council of Canadians calls for a ban on all uranium exploration and mining strengthening of legislation to ensure that any exploration or mining of other materials does not disturb or uncover uranium deposits and fair just transition programs for all communities and workers involved in the uranium mining industry.“