Canada and China finalize uranium agreement

14 February 2012

The governments of Canada and China have completed negotiations on an agreement that will facilitated increased exports of Canadian uranium to China, according to Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper.

The agreement is a Protocol which supplements the Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the People’s Republic of China for Co-operation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy of 1994.

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

Representatives from both countries will work to finalize the text of the Protocol within the next few months with a view to proceeding with their respective adoption processes as soon as possible.

Canada was the world’s second largest mine producer of uranium in 2010 (after Kazakhstan), producing 25.4 million pounds U3O8. In November 2010, Canadian uranium producer Cameco signed an agreement with China Guangdong Nuclear Power Company (CGNPC) to supply 29 million pounds of uranium concentrate through 2025.

China, currently has 15 reactors in operation plus 26 more under construction. New construction starts remain suspended following the Fukushima accident, however China’s aim for 60 GW of installed nuclear capacity by 2020 is still an achievable target.

Chinese domestic uranium production activities have not been generally successful, and as a result, it has been negotiating long-term supply from other countries. It is expected to rely on uranium imports for the next decade and potentially beyond. Chinese customs data reportedly show the import of 45 million pounds U3O8 in 2010, more than three times the 2009 total.

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