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Paladin Energy Ltd. has achieved a first for an Australian company: It has won the right to operate a uranium mine in Canada.
The approval from Ottawa, announced Monday by the company, is a signal that Canada welcomes more foreign investment in its uranium industry. And that has positive implications for a struggling sector that could really use some outside capital.
“This is an historic decision that could have implications for all uranium companies and projects in Canada,” Raymond James analyst David Sadowski said in a note.
Paladin said the federal government approved its request to be the majority owner and operator of the Michelin uranium mine in Labrador. The company hopes to begin production when the sputtering uranium market rebounds.
This approval was unique because Canada has a Non-Resident Ownership Policy (NROP) governing its uranium sector. It forbids foreign companies from owning more than 49 per cent of a producing uranium mine, unless a Canadian partner cannot be found.
The policy is a relic from the Cold War, when there were broader concerns about nuclear weapons proliferation. It has become increasingly dated since then, and critics such as Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall have called for it to be relaxed. His province hosts the richest uranium mines in the world.
The NROP already has loopholes. French nuclear giant AREVA SA has longstanding investments that are exempt from the rules, and the free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union lifted restrictions for other European firms.
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