ARCHIVED - Minister Oliver Announces Milestone on Canada-India Nuclear Cooperation Agreement

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Remarks by the Honourable Joe Oliver
Minister of Natural Resources

Delivered at the Cameco Head Office

April 9, 2013
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Good morning everyone, and thank you Mr. Seitz, [Ken Seitz, Cameco Senior Vice-President and Chief Commercial Officer] for your kind introduction and for inviting me to visit head office.

Thank you also, Premier Wall [the Honourable Brad Wall, Premier of Saskatchewan], for driving in this morning to join us for this important announcement, and thank you to Minister Yelich [the Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification] as well for joining us today.

We are at the headquarters of one of the world’s largest uranium producers, accounting for about 16 percent of the world’s production. Cameco’s McArthur River and Key Lake operations in northern Saskatchewan are now ranked as the world’s leading producers of high-grade, low-cost uranium.

With its global exploration program, Cameco also holds leading land positions in the world's most promising areas for new uranium discoveries in Canada and Australia. So, Cameco is helping to keep Canada at the forefront of uranium exploration and production worldwide.

That is good news for Saskatchewan and good news for all of Canada. And that is why I am so proud of the stellar work being done by Canadians here in Saskatoon.

As I mentioned, this province enjoys the enviable position of being home to McArthur River, the largest uranium mine on the planet. The Athabasca Basin in northern Saskatchewan boasts the highest-grade uranium deposits in the world.

As many of you know, Canada is the world's second-largest producer of uranium, with exports valued at more than $1 billion a year, all of it from Saskatchewan. About 88 percent of the uranium shipped from this province goes to global markets.

Uranium mining provides close to 5,000 high-quality, high-paying direct jobs across the province — more than 40 percent of them held by Aboriginal people. Mining also creates spin-off jobs and spurs investment in the local economy.

Uranium is a cornerstone of a growing nuclear-related sector here, which includes the Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation, the Canadian Light Source synchrotron at the University of Saskatchewan and the Slowpoke II reactor operated by the Saskatchewan Research Council. That is good news here at Cameco because along with increased production comes job security and growth.

Canada has been involved in the development and application of nuclear technologies for peaceful purposes for more than six decades. Indeed, Canada is engaged in virtually every aspect of the industry — from uranium mining to the construction and operation of nuclear power plants, to decommissioning and waste management.

Nuclear power is a key part of Canada's energy mix, representing 15% of our energy usage nationally and over 50% in Ontario. It is a major contributor to our status as an international leader in clean electricity generation, with 75% coming from non-GHG emitting sources.

According to the Canadian Energy Research Institute, nuclear power production alone generates close to $5 billion in annual revenues and provides direct employment for more than 17,000 people in Canada.

As the world seeks to expand its greenhouse gas–free sources of production, Canada is well-positioned to help meet this demand by providing high-quality nuclear systems technologies, services and fuel.

Our Government has a responsibility to ensure the right conditions are in place for Canada's nuclear industry to succeed in a highly competitive international nuclear marketplace.

That is why addressing some critical and complex issues has been a priority for our Government. In October 2011, we concluded the sale of AECL's CANDU Reactor Division to Candu Energy Inc., a subsidiary of SNC-Lavalin. And today, Candu Energy is pursuing many opportunities in Canada and abroad. Just over a month ago, I announced a process to restructure AECL's Nuclear Laboratories by moving to a Government-owned, Contractor-operated, or GoCo, model for the management of the labs, which will bring the benefits of private sector rigour and efficiency.

Our Government will be looking at an industry-driven nuclear innovation agenda, based on a cost-shared approach. However, we will not make decisions without thorough consideration of the business cases and their value to Canadians.

We have also ensured a strong, independent regulator — the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission — reappointing Dr. Michael Binder for a second five-year term as president.

And we have updated the regulatory framework with our plan for Responsible Resource Development. With this initiative, Canada now offers potential investors in major projects a new level of predictability — an assurance that reviews of projects will not go on indefinitely.

Reviews of potential nuclear projects, led by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, will be subject to firm start-to-end timelines. The Commission has voluntarily adopted a 24-month timeline, which will apply to its reviews and decisions for site preparation licences for new Class I nuclear facilities, specifically, licences for site preparation and construction of new uranium mines or mills.

Our commitment to the nuclear industry also includes opening doors to new trade opportunities, which I recognize is very important to the government and people of Saskatchewan.

Our Government welcomes foreign investment in ownership of Canada’s domestic uranium mining properties under the terms of the Non-Resident Ownership Policy in the Uranium Sector. Of course, nuclear energy trade, including uranium, carried out by Canada with other countries must abide by bilateral Nuclear Cooperation Agreements that outline nuclear non-proliferation conditions and are subject to rigorous oversight by the CNSC [Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission].

And we are opening new opportunities overseas for Canada’s entire nuclear industry. Last February, Prime Minister Harper announced an agreement to facilitate exports of Canadian uranium to China, where 28 power reactors are under construction.

Nuclear power is the technology of choice in many fast-growing economies. Clean energy from a reliable country like Canada is especially vital to China, where energy consumption increased by 305 percent between 2000 and 2010. Given China’s challenges with smog and pollution, this low-emission source of energy can go a long way to improving the health of its citizens and the environment.

We know that nuclear power helps avoid 89 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in Canada each year — the equivalent of taking 81 percent of Canada’s cars off the road. Now extrapolate those numbers to China, where its emerging middle class is just beginning to become a country of car owners. Worldwide, nuclear power generation helps avoid about 2.5 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.

Beyond the importance of the Canada–China agreement for the environment, it is equally significant for Canadian uranium companies — particularly those here in Saskatchewan. It will lead to substantial increases in exports to China, a massive and fast-growing market. In fact, I understand that it will mean about $3 billion in business for Cameco over the next decade.

India is another country where we are pursuing opportunities for Canada’s energy sector, including nuclear. India’s growth and development are also among the fastest in the world. In little more than a decade, India is expected to have the fourth-largest economy in the world.

With rapid growth, India’s energy supply challenges are both acute and urgent. Many experts now predict that the coal reserves India relies on to power its economy will run out by 2050. That is why India is seeking diversification of supply to provide greater energy security and to fuel its dynamic growth. India is currently the fourth-largest energy consumer in the world and is expected to more than triple its electricity supply within the next 25 years.

Over the past year, I have travelled on two trade missions to India to promote international trade and investment. I have also met with representatives from the Indo-Canadian Chamber of Commerce several times. During my visits to India, my message was simple: Canada is open for business and stands ready to help. Canada is one of the world’s leading producers of uranium, which India needs to expand its nuclear generating capacity.

That is why I am pleased to announce the next major development that will lead to even greater opportunities for innovation and economic development in uranium mining, and for Canada’s nuclear industry as a whole.

As you may know, last November, Prime Minister Harper announced the conclusion of negotiations on an Appropriate Arrangement for implementation of the Canada-India Nuclear Cooperation Agreement. Today, I can proudly announce that the Appropriate Arrangement has been signed by both the Canadian and Indian nuclear regulators, thereby finalizing the Arrangement. This completes a major milestone in bringing the Canada-India Nuclear Cooperation Agreement into effect.

It is an important step toward full implementation of the Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, which will create significant opportunities for the Canadian uranium mining and nuclear industry.

When brought into force, the Agreement — together with the Appropriate Arrangement — will allow Canadian nuclear companies to export controlled nuclear materials, equipment and technology for peaceful uses to India, under the safeguards applied by the International Atomic Energy Agency. These Agreements provide international treaty–level assurances that nuclear material, equipment and technology originating in Canada will only be used for civilian and peaceful applications.

The new Appropriate Arrangement with India, along with the agreement we have already signed with China, illustrates our Government’s efforts to reach new markets for Canadian energy and to strengthen our trading partnership with the Asia–Pacific region.

Agreements like these can help to ensure that Canada remains a pioneer in the development of its nuclear sector for peaceful purposes to satisfy the health, energy and environmental needs of people the world over.

Given Saskatchewan’s wealth of uranium resources, today’s announcement is clearly good news for the people of this province. It heralds new opportunities for increased trade and economic growth for Canada as a whole.

And by opening the doors of trade, we are helping powerhouse companies like Cameco to keep Canada at the forefront of the global economy for years to come.

Thank you.