Oct 18 (Reuters) - Canada has agreed to waive for European companies a longstanding requirement that buyers take on a Canadian partner in uranium mines, a move that may spur greater investment in developing the country's rich uranium reserves.
The move, part of the Canada-European Union free trade agreement announced on Friday, comes after intense lobbying from France-based Areva SA and Anglo-Australian Rio Tinto Plc for Canada to scrap the Cold War era policy.
Canada, the world's second biggest producer of uranium behind Kazakhstan, currently restricts foreign companies from owning more than 49 percent of any uranium mine. There are no ownership restrictions on foreign participation in exploration.
Lifting the requirement for European companies would appear to benefit Areva, in which the French government owns a controlling stake. Areva owns the Kiggavik project in the northern Canadian territory of Nunavut.
European companies will continue to be subject to other reviews of their investments by Ottawa, according to the Canadian government.