Saskatchewan-based company saw its shares jump after the deal
GN Bureau | April 16, 2015
A good deal makes economics and financial sense. The $280 million deal to supply uranium fuel to India formally ends nuclear-untouchable status of India and makes stocks of Canadian producer Cameco Corp very attractive.
The Saskatchewan-based company will supply 3,220 metric tonnes of uranium concentrate to India over the next five years, as per the agreement signed on Wednesday. The deal is Cameco's first with India and as result its shares rose 5.8 per cent in Toronto.
Canada banned exports of uranium and nuclear hardware to India in the 1970s after the government used Canadian technology to develop a nuclear bomb.
"Canada is providing uranium to India as a mark of its trust and confidence in India," prime minister Narendra Modi told a news conference during his official visit to the North American country.
Nuclear trade between Canada and India has the potential to go far beyond uranium, extending to exports of hardware.
Cameco CEO Tim Gitzel said the Indian uranium deal represents a small portion of annual sales. For instance, Cameco expects to sell nearly 15,000 metric tonnes in 2015.
The agreement paves the way for the Saskatchewan company, the world’s second-largest uranium producer, to sell more in the years ahead as India vastly expands nuclear power generation. India’s nuclear energy building program is second only to China’s in scale.
He said much of the long-term growth Cameco sees in the uranium industry will come from India. “We want to be the preferred seller to India,” he said. “Today is just the start of the relationship.”
Cameco is one of the world's largest uranium producers accounting for about 16% of the global production from its mines in Canada, the US and Kazakhstan.
Meanwhile, Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall, who played a major role in the deal, characterized the sale as helping a country with similar values and a boon for his province.
“Our uranium producers are excited and ready to supply product to India, the world’s largest democracy,” Mr. Wall said.
He said 45 per cent of Cameco’s work force in Saskatchewan is aboriginal. “This is the largest industrial employer of First Nations and Métis people in our province.”
Under the five-year contract, Saskatoon-based Cameco will supply 3,000 tonnes of northern Saskatchewan uranium to India’s Department of Atomic Energy, according to a Cameco statement. At current market prices of approximately $49 CAD per pound, that volume is worth around $345 million.
Gitzel said the contract's future potential is also very exciting. India has 21 nuclear reactors operating, six under construction and possibly a few dozen more coming in the coming decades. With 400 million Indians still without power, there’s potential for Cameco to supply much more product, he said.
The regulatory path was cleared two years ago for Canada to sell uranium to India. The rules allow sales for peaceful power-generating purposes only, Gitzel said. Gitzel said Cameco officials worked hard, but also credited Harper’s and Wall’s separate visits to India to promote Saskatchewan uranium.
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