Looming India Uranium Deal Huge for Saskatchewan, Premier Says

Cameco Corp., Canada’s biggest uranium producer, would reap a revenue windfall once a sales agreement is finalized with India, while boosting employment in its home province, Saskatchewan’s premier said.

A deal would be “huge,” yielding hundreds of millions in revenue and supporting jobs in the mining sector, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said in an interview with Bloomberg News on Friday. He was asked to comment on a possible agreement by Saskatchewan-based Cameco to provide uranium for nuclear power.

“It’ll mean tax revenue, it’ll mean job retention, it’ll mean new jobs, if in fact there is an agreement here with India,” Wall said by telephone. “Depending on all the specifics, you’re going to be talking about hundreds of millions of dollars worth of sales over some period of time.”

A long-term deal by Cameco to sell uranium to India could be announced as soon as next week when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Canada, said a person familiar with negotiations, who asked not to be identified because the agreement isn’t yet final. The Globe and Mail had reported the possibility of a deal earlier Friday.

Modi is scheduled to make a three-day trip to Canada from April 14-16, with stops in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver.

Cameco Jobs

Cameco is a major employer in Saskatchewan, in particular of aboriginal workers in the province’s north, Wall said. The company began shipping uranium to China in 2013 and has been pushing for an India deal. “If we’re getting close to something, this is huge,” Wall said.

Rob Gereghty, a Cameco spokesman, would not say if a deal is near.

“We have been meeting with government officials and working towards a long-term supply agreement with India,” Gereghty said in an e-mail. “At this point, we have not made any sales to India.”

India currently uses nuclear power for three percent of its electricity, but hopes to raise that figure to 25 percent by 2050, Gereghty said. The Asian country currently requires three times as much uranium as it produces to fuel its reactors, he said.

India Trade

Modi hinted at a deal on his Facebook page last month by saying he looked “forward to resuming our Civil Nuclear Energy cooperation with Canada, especially for sourcing uranium fuel for our nuclear power plants.”

Wall praised the efforts by Modi and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to open up trade paths for Saskatchewan uranium. While a Cameco deal would not mean “a big number” for direct provincial revenue, it’s “huge in terms of job creation, job retention,” Wall said.

“Prime Minister Modi, I think, has demonstrated real leadership in wanting to have long-term, but also more sustainable energy, for that growing economy,” the Saskatchewan premier said.

Stephen Lecce, a spokesman for Harper, declined to comment on whether a deal was near, adding the Canada-India Nuclear Cooperation Agreement came into effect in 2013, opening the door for trade. “It is up to businesses to complete commercial contracts,” Lecce said in an e-mail.

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