Mining heavyweight Cameco sees opportunity for international growth if
other countries follow suit
VANCOUVER — From Thursday's Globe and Mail Published on Thursday, Mar.
04, 2010 12:00AM EST Last updated on Friday, Mar. 05, 2010 3:12AM EST
A plan to relax foreign ownership rules in the uranium industry is
back on Ottawa's agenda but isn't expected to lead to a takeover of
Saskatchewan-based Cameco Corp., the world's top uranium producer,
which is protected by separate legislation.
Meantime, Cameco reiterated its hope that opening Canada's doors to
foreign investors will in turn give it access to mine ownership in
The push to increase foreign ownership in Canada's uranium sector was
part of yesterday's Speech from the Throne, in which the government
said it will "ensure that unnecessary regulation does not inhibit the
growth of Canada's uranium mining industry by unduly restricting
It also vowed to "expand investment promotion in key markets."
A bill before the House of Commons specific to opening up investment
in the uranium sector was put off before Parliament was prorogued in
Industry Minister Tony Clement said the government is acting on the
advice of several independent reports recommending increased foreign
investment as a way to boost innovation and jobs in Canada.
"Any investments that would occur have to be in the net benefit of
Canada and have to satisfy the test of making sure that it is
consistent with national security, so those caveats are still in place
in our Investment Canada rules," he said. "Uranium has been identified
specifically as another industry that has hitherto not been part of
the Investment Canada Act, along with satellites, along with
There is now a 49-per-cent foreign ownership limit in the uranium
sector, which is tightly regulated.
Uranium production in Canada is dominated by the world's two largest
uranium mining companies, Cameco and Areva of France.
Cameco has been open to lifting foreign ownership restrictions in
Canada, as long as they can see the same result in other countries.
"If we open up our country to do business on the uranium side, then
Cameco should be able to do business in their country as well,"
spokesman Lyle Krahn said.
According to legislation in Saskatchewan, Cameco must maintain its
head office in the province. Federal laws also prevent a non-resident
investor holding more than 15 per cent of Cameco shares. Total foreign
ownership cannot exceed 25 per cent of the votes.
Loosening foreign ownership rules will also allow Areva to invest more
in Canada, including in a proposed new mine in Nunavut, said Areva
Canada Inc. chief executive officer Roger Alexander.
"It means ensuring foreign ownership will be given a fair break in
developing mining and milling activity in Canada," he said.
- With a file from reporter Bill Curry in Ottawa