Canada's uranium a 'strategic asset' and NDP won't reverse Paladin exception: Mulcair

Thu Sep 10, 2015 1:23pm EDT
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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Canada's New Democratic Party views the country's uranium as a "strategic asset," and would not reverse a rare government decision to allow foreign ownership of a proposed mine, leader Tom Mulcair said on Thursday.

The uranium industry is unpopular in Quebec, the NDP's stronghold heading into next month's election. But it is a key part of the economy in Saskatchewan, where the party hopes to add support.

The governing Conservatives in June made an exception to the country's longstanding policy requiring uranium mines to be majority-owned by Canadian companies, and approved an application by Australia's Paladin Energy Ltd.

If the left-wing NDP forms government after the Oct. 19 election, it would not change that decision, Mulcair said during a Winnipeg campaign stop.

"The federal government has a responsibility to keep a very close eye on" uranium production, he said. "It's a strategic asset, but the (Paladin decision) seems to have opened the possibility for better investment."

Restrictions on foreign companies have reduced opportunities for companies, including Denison Mines Corp and Fission Uranium Corp, to find buyers for their planned uranium projects in Canada, the world's second-largest producer.

The radioactive metal produces fuel for reactors.

The Conservative government has said Paladin was unable to find a Canadian partner for its project in Newfoundland and Labrador. Saskatchewan-based Cameco Corp is the main owner of all of the country's uranium mines.   Continued...

NDP leader Tom Mulcair talks to reporters after the federal budget was delivered on Parliament Hill in Ottawa April 21, 2015. REUTERS/Patrick Doyle