Editorial: Canada-EU free trade deal shifts the mining landscape (Northern Miner – October 24, 2013)

The Northern Miner, first published in 1915, during the Cobalt Silver Rush, is considered Canada’s leading authority on the mining industry.

Canada’s base-metal producers got a lift on Oct. 18 with the announcement of a preliminary free-trade agreement between Canada and the 28-member European Union that promises miners and metal producers a gradual elimination of tariffs on such big-ticket items as aluminum and iron ore, and a loosening of ownership and labour-mobility rules.

Canada’s Quebec-centred aluminum industry was perhaps most vocal with praise for what looks to be a big-business-friendly deal, with the Aluminum Association of Canada describing it as an “unprecedented growth opportunity” for the Canadian aluminum industry to “open the door to a large-scale market for Canadian aluminum production.”

The association says it’s likely the EU will eliminate tariffs on Canadian-produced aluminum, such as 7% on rods, 6% on billets, foundry and slabs, and 3% on remelt. Europe’s vast automobile-manufacturing market is particularly attractive to Canadian aluminum producers, who are competing with aluminum producers in the Middle East, where capacity has tripled in recent years.

The Mining Association of Canada called the Canada–EU deal a “significant step forward,” and said other tariffs due to be eliminated over time include: nickel and nickel products, where tariff rates are up to 3.3%; non-ferrous metals including copper, zinc, lead and tin, from rates of 3.1% to 9%; and iron and steel, from rates of up to 7%.

The MAC highlighted that the EU is Canada’s second-largest export market for Canadian metals, the third-largest for non-metals and the fourth-largest for mineral fuels. It noted that between 2010 and 2012, Canada exported an average of $20.4 billion per year of metal and mineral products to the EU, led by diamonds, gold, nickel, aluminum and iron ore.

Perhaps the greatest change we’ll see in Canadian mining due to the Canada–EU free-trade deal will be in the Athabasca basin, with initial reports signalling that the Canadian government would lower its foreign-ownership restrictions for European companies in our uranium mining subsector.

There are no foreign-ownership restrictions on uranium exploration in Canada, but a foreign company has to take on a Canadian company — such as Cameco — as a partner in order to operate a uranium mine, and foreign companies cannot own more than 49% of a uranium mine. It looks like these restrictions will be lifted for EU-based companies such as French nuclear-power giant Areva, and the U.K.’s Rio Tinto.

For the rest of this editorial, click here: http://www.northernminer.com/news/editorial-canada-eu-free-trade-deal-shifts-the-mining-landscape/1002674081/rq0wMrp3vyWrlxu0q82vM20/?ref=enews_NM&utm_source=NM&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NM-EN10242013

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