Canada opens doors to uranium trade with China – by Kip Keen ( – February 11, 2012)

The big talking point in Canada is that as Chinese-Canadian relations warm up, so too will Canadian uranium in Chinese nuclear reactors.

HALIFAX, NS – Uranium producers in Canada got a heavy dose of good news as the country’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, abolished trade rules that banned the export of uranium to China.

Prime Minister Harper, who has been on a trade mission in China with Canadian business leaders, made the announcement as part of a slew of other agreements between China and Canada.

The Canadian government will amend a 1994 nuclear agreement between the two countries to allow uranium exports to China, though the exact details of what the amendment would say is unclear. Chinese and Canadian officials are to work them out over the coming months, a federal government statement said.

Government officials in Canada touted the uranium deal on two fronts, economic and environmental.

“This agreement will help Canadian uranium companies to substantially increase exports to China, the world’s fastest growing market for these products,” Prime Minister Harper said in a prepared statement. “It will generate jobs here at home while contributing to the use of clean reliable energy in China.”

From the heart of Canada’s U3O8 country Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, who has been pushing for uranium trade with China, made the same case. “This new agreement and the new investment it will promote are a boon for all northerners, particularly young people looking for well paying  long-term jobs,” Wall stated in a government press release. “And let’s not forget that every nuclear generating facility China builds to meet demand for electricity means less reliance on coal.”

It was not hard to see why Wall would want Harper to break down rules forbidding uranium export to China. The Saskatchewan government expects  uranium production in Saskatchewan to more or less double by 2017, thanks in large part to Cameco’s Cigar Lake uranium mine, which is under development.

Cameco expects production to ramp up to 7.9 milion pounds uranium at Cigar Lake by 2016, making up about a fifth of its overall production. Cameco projects its uranium production will grow from 22 million pounds in 2012 to 40 million pounds in 2018.

Meantime, China’s uranium demand is set to surge. The World Nuclear Association (WNA) says that the Chinese plan to quadruple nuclear capacity by 2020. Already China has 26 reactors under construction with more on the way the WNA says.

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