Canada-India contract strengthens nuclear ties

16 April 2015

A long-term uranium supply contract signed by Cameco and India's Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has been welcomed by the two countries' prime ministers as they look to further cooperation and collaboration between their nations.

Prime Ministers Modi and Harper at their joint press conference (Image: Government of Canada)

The contract was signed yesterday in the presence of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the first official visit by an Indian prime minister to Canada in 42 years. It is Cameco's first contract with India, and was made possible by a nuclear cooperation agreement between the two countries that came into force in September 2013.

Under the contract, which covers the period to 2020, Cameco will supply the DAE with 7.1 million pounds of uranium concentrate (about 2730 tU). All of the uranium is to be sourced from Cameco's Canadian operations. The contract is worth around CAD 350 million ($286 million) at current uranium prices, according to the Canadian government.

A joint statement issued by the two leaders highlighted the importance of the supply agreement, saying it imparted a "new significance" to civil nuclear cooperation between the countries. Prime Minister Modi said the uranium procurement agreement launched a "new era of bilateral nuclear cooperation" and reflected a "new level of mutual trust and confidence".

Cameco president and CEO Tim Gitzel said the contract opened the door to a "dynamic and expanding" market. "Much of the long-term growth we see coming in our industry will happen in India and this emerging market is key to our strategy," he said.

Beyond uranium supplies, Harper and Modi also agreed to encourage a collaborative program to "leverage their industries' respective strengths" in pressurized heavy water reactor (PHWR) technology. Sixteen of India's 21 currently operating nuclear power plants are indigenously designed PHWRs that can trace their ancestry to two Canadian-designed Candu plants, Rajasthan 1 and 2, which started up in 1973 and 1980.

The leaders also encouraged closer civil nuclear energy cooperation between Indian and Canadian companies, and welcomed the setting up of the India Nuclear Insurance Pool earlier this year as a positive step towards that. A Canadian civil nuclear trade mission to India is scheduled for October, and the leaders also agreed to "explore mutually beneficial partnerships in the application of radioisotopes for societal benefits".

The joint statement also encourages Canadian and Indian atomic energy establishments and research institutions to establish mechanisms for long-term collaboration in nuclear energy R&D, and includes an agreement to exchange nuclear safety and regulatory experiences and developments. The two countries' nuclear regulators, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board of India and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, have finalized an arrangement for regulatory cooperation in the field of nuclear and radiation safety regulation.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News